Drive to reopen border checkpoints with Laos

Drive to reopen border checkpoints with Laos

Thailand is holding talks with Laos to expedite the reopening of border checkpoints to facilitate border trade and tourism between the two countries.

Following discussions held with Lao ambassador to Thailand Seng Soukhathivong, Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai said the meeting reflected the longstanding friendship between Thailand and Laos as neighbours that enjoy cultural similarities and a close bond at the people level.

Most of the trade between the two countries is via border trade, which utilises checkpoints as a gateway for trade and investment into other countries such as China.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the opening of the first Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge (Nong Khai-Vientiane).

Therefore, the Commerce Ministry is accelerating discussions with Laos to alleviate trade obstacles and revitalise border trade.

Mr Phumtham said he asked Mr Seng to expedite related Lao agencies to consider the reopening of four border checkpoints that have been closed since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in order to facilitate the smoother transportation of Thai products into Laos.

Thailand is ready to cooperate with Laos in the promotion of economic activities between the border provinces of both countries to support increasing cross-border trade.

He said the government of Laos is firmly committed to reopening the checkpoints as quickly as possible to revitalise trade and tourism between the two countries.

Mr Phumtham also proposed the arrangement of a memorandum of understanding between Phayao and the Lao province of Sainyabuli to stimulate the border economy and facilitate tourism between the two provinces.

He informed Mr Seng that Thailand is ready to cooperate with Laos in exporting live cattle to China, providing technical assistance as well as facilitating participation in various trade fairs including business matching activities organised by the Commerce Ministry to strengthen bilateral trade and investment.

Currently, Laos is Thailand's seventh largest trading partner within Asean and the country ranks third in terms of border trade.

The value of trade between Thailand and Laos in 2023 stood at around 264 billion baht, a decline of 3.68% from the previous year, with Thailand registering a trade surplus of 55.9 billion baht.

Thai-Lao border trade tallied almost 261 billion baht, up by 0.18% from the previous year, accounting for 98.5% of total trade between the two countries.

In terms of border trade, Thailand reported a surplus of 56.5 billion baht.

Key Thai exports to Laos include refined oil, sugar cane, automobiles and parts, chemical products, and cosmetics.

Key imports from Laos include electricity, fruits and vegetables, machinery and parts, fertilisers and pesticides, and cement.

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