Thailand and Laos will work together to boost the value of bilateral trade to US$11 billion (395.7 billion baht) in the next two years, according to government spokesman Chai Wacharonke.
He was summarising the outcome of a meeting between Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and his Lao counterpart Sonexay Siphandone during an official visit to the neighbouring country on Monday.
The dialogue covered a wide range of topics, including trade and investment, energy cooperation, rail and road connectivity, transport and logistics, and security cooperation.
The spokesman said Mr Srettha expressed readiness to support economic links between the two countries and turn Laos and the Northeast of Thailand into a "growth area".
Mr Srettha proposed that the two countries find ways to improve bilateral trade to $11 billion by 2025, Mr Chai said, adding that Thailand is ready to host a meeting between the Commerce Ministry and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Laos to discuss plans to realise this ambition.
The prime minister also voiced support for the Lao government's policy to turn the land-locked country into a major regional "land link'', Mr Chai said, adding that Thailand was also ready to work with Laos to develop infrastructure and boost transport connectivity between the two countries.
Mr Srettha said the two sides should step up efforts to finalise details regarding a project to build a new railway bridge across the Mekong River, linking the northeastern province of Nong Khai with Vientiane, the Lao capital, the spokesman said.
Thailand was ready to offer a soft loan to Laos to fund the project, the spokesman quoted the prime minister as saying.
Mr Srettha also asked Laos to set clear cargo-handling charges at the Vientiane Logistic Park, Laos's first-ever integrated logistics facility designed to provide comprehensive logistics services so Thai operators can plan their cargo transport in advance.
The prime minister suggested Laos allow trucks from Thailand to enter as they had before the coronavirus pandemic and expressed an interest in buying more clean energy from Laos to support industrial growth, the spokesman said.
Mr Chai went on to say that the two sides have attached importance to tackling the issue of cross-border haze pollution and have agreed that efforts should be made to speed up a joint action plan between Thailand, Laos and Myanmar to deal with the problem.
Thailand also has a plan to support Laos's efforts to devise a fire risk map as well as a plan to provide training for its officials, Mr Chai said.
After the meeting, Mr Srettha and the Lao prime minister witnessed the signing of several cooperation documents between the two countries.
They included a memorandum of understanding on an exchange between the Culture Ministry and Laos' Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism; the Record of Discussions between the Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency and the Lao National Railway for capacity building and locomotive driving training as well as technical assistance and ticketing system implementation.
They also agreed on the development of a business model for the Lao National Railway.
Mr Srettha later paid a courtesy call on Laos' president and general secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, Thongloun Sisoulith.
Mr Srettha informed the president about his talks with the Lao prime minister, while the Lao president commended the close relations and cooperation between the two countries and expressed hope that the outcome of the meeting would be taken forward in a tangible manner for the mutual benefit of both countries, the spokesman said.
Following the meetings, Mr Srettha and his Lao counterpart jointly presided over the opening of the Khamsavath railway station in Vientiane.
The new station, which allows passengers from Thailand to travel by train to inner Vientiane, will help promote tourism and boost cross-border trade between the two countries, Mr Chai said.