VIENTIANE: A special freight train carrying 25 cold-chain containers loaded with 500 tonnes of fresh Lao bananas departed from the Vientiane station in the Lao capital on Wednesday.
The train travelled all the way north across mountains and rivers along the China-Laos Railway to Changsha, capital of southern China's Hunan province.
This is the first "banana train" that travels directly to a specific Chinese city since the China-Laos Railway was put into operation a year ago. The "banana train" is also the debuting train under the "One Way, Two Parks" project between the Hunan provincial government and Laos.
Earlier this year, Hunan and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Laos jointly signed the memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the two sides on the joint construction of the above-mentioned "One Way, Two Parks" project.
Under the project, the two sides will use the China-Laos Railway as a channel to comprehensively strengthen the international agricultural cooperation and economic and trade exchanges between Hunan and Laos through the joint construction of a linkage between the modern agricultural industrial park in Lao capital Vientiane and related industrial parks in Hunan.
Both sides will join hands to realise the annual average agricultural produce trade volume of over 1 million tonnes between Laos and Hunan during the agreement period. This is expected to make positive contributions to the trade of high-quality agricultural products, the modernisation of the agricultural industry between the two sides and the construction of a community of shared future between China and Laos.
Since the signing of the memorandum, the Hunan provincial government has promoted Hunan Xuanye Ecological Agriculture Development Co Ltd, Hunan Agricultural Development Investment Group Co Ltd, Hongxing Industry Group Co Ltd and other leading agricultural enterprises in the province and abroad to jointly promote the import of Lao agricultural products and domestic distribution under the cooperation framework.
Among those, Xuanye (Laos) Co Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hunan Xuanye Ecological Agriculture Development Co Ltd, is mainly responsible for the production, purchase of related Lao agricultural products and export to China.
"The China-Laos Railway is seeing more high-quality bananas and other agricultural products of Laos to be exported to Hunan via the railway, with more than two trains per week," said one of the project operators Xu Guowu, chairman of Xuanye (Laos) Co Ltd, adding that bunches of bananas not only reflect the great value of China-Laos Railway connection and the historical opportunity brought by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, but also promote the concept of joint development, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation.
Banana is among the top agricultural products exported from Laos. During the first half of 2022, banana exports were worth US$141 million, only after cassava exports which made around $250 million.