Thailand to ink deal on Thai-Lao line
Prayut plans signing at Beijing BRF meet
Thailand will sign a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) on the Nong Khai-Vientiane Railway Connecting Line with China and Laos later this week at the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing.
Vilawan Mangklathanakul, the director-general of the Department of International Economic Affairs, said the connecting line will include a bridge that, once completed, will link Thailand with Laos and China.
"Although the high-speed railway projects in Thailand and Laos have differing deadlines, the MoC will undoubtedly enhance the region's connectivity," she said at a media briefing on Monday about the second BRF, which will be held on April 26-27 under the theme of "Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future".
Thailand's Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Laos' Minister of Public Works and Transport Bounchanh Sinthavong, and China's Deputy Director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Hu Zucai are scheduled to sign off on the MoC.
Ms Vilawan said that as the current chair of Asean, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to discuss further cooperation between the bloc and China.
"The visit will strengthen relations and create new opportunities," she said, before adding that China is also keen to know more about the vision of the Asean chair.
Ms Vilawan said Gen Prayut will bring the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity (MPAC) and the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) to the discussion.
"The premier would like to connect these initiatives to China's New Silk Road project," she said.
Ms Vilawan said Gen Prayut is also looking to turn the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) into a supply chain and logistic hub for the region.
At the summit, Ms Vilawan said Gen Prayut will issue a joint communique with other leaders to promote economic connectivity, basic infrastructures, environmental sustainability, and efficiency in all projects.
"The upcoming joint declaration will provide more details than the first BRF communique in 2017," she said.
Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Digital Economy and Society Pichet Durongkaveroj, and Deputy Minister of Commerce Chutima Bunyapraphasara will accompany the PM to the high-level meetings.
President Xi Jinping launched the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013 to connect Asia with Europe and Africa. Following the ancient Silk Road, the BRI is aimed at increasing both China and the region's economic development and growth.
To date, 122 countries have already joined the Belt and Road Initiative.