The Commerce Ministry is bullish about bilateral trade with Laos after officials recently met their counterparts to accelerate the reopening of four border checkpoints opposite Thailand's Nong Khai province.
Keerati Rushchano, the permanent secretary for commerce, recently visited Laos and met Phoukhong Bannavong, vice-mayor of Vientiane and director of the capital city's planning and investment department.
Mr Keerati said he asked Mr Phoukhong to speed up the reopening of four border checkpoints that were closed since the outbreak of Covid-19 in order to stimulate the border economy and facilitate tourism.
The four border checkpoints are: the Tha Duea local checkpoint opposite the Nong Khai municipal pier (Tha Sadet) checkpoint in Muang Nong Khai district; the Nong Da traditional checkpoint opposite the Ban Mo checkpoint in Sri Chiang Mai district; the Park Ngum traditional checkpoint opposite the Ban Chumphon checkpoint in Phon Phisai district; and the Kokhea traditional checkpoint opposite the Ban Muang checkpoint in Sangkhom district.
Mr Keerati said Thailand is ready to reopen the four checkpoints on the Thai side as soon as Vientiane agrees to do the same.
He quoted Mr Phoukhong as saying Vientiane was doing its best to tackle infrastructure, operational system and human resource problems, and pledged to reopen the checkpoints as fast as possible to revitalise trade and tourism between the two countries.
Both sides also agreed to underline tourism connectivity with each other and in the region to generate maximum benefits, said Mr Keerati.
Thailand has 49 border checkpoints with Laos.
A total of 44 of the checkpoints on the Thai side are currently open, while 36 are open on the Lao side.
In 2022, Thai-Lao border trade tallied 260 billion baht, up by 21.1% from the previous year, accounting for 94.7% of total trade between the two countries.
Border trade in Nong Khai province, which is adjacent to Vientiane, amounted to 86.5 billion baht last year, an increase of 15.3% from 2021, ranking first in border trade between the two countries.