Laos buys fewer Thai goods after VAT at Friendship Bridge

Laos buys fewer Thai goods after VAT at Friendship Bridge

The Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge over the Mekong River is seen from Nong Khai. (Post Today photo)
The Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge over the Mekong River is seen from Nong Khai. (Post Today photo)

Laotians have spent less money on goods in Thailand after Vientiane imposed a 10% value-added tax late last year, a Lao customs official said on Thursday.

Soutchai Inthavong, deputy chief of the customs international checkpoint at the Friendship Bridge, said the number of Laotians crossing the bridge to Thailand remained unchanged after the Lao government imposed the VAT in November, the Vientiane Times reported on Thursday.

But he said 80% of them imported fewer goods from Thailand since the new measure took effect.

Mr Soutchai did not give any figures, but the website of the Thai Highways Department showed more than 2 million people crossed the bridge from Vientiane to Nong Khai in 2011.

The VAT measure is aimed at discouraging Lao people from buying goods from Thailand and generating revenue for the Lao government.

Lao citizens or expat passengers living in Laos upon entry through border checkpoints, including international airports, are required to pay 10% VAT on their new or used personal effects valued at more than US$50. The VAT levy is waived for passengers who travel less than twice a month.

The Thai government has expressed concern about the measure as it could cripple border trade between the two countries.

The Lao government has collected more than 98 million kip (431,000 baht) since it imposed the tax at the bridge, according to Mr Soutchai.

It included tax collection at Thanalaeng station which connects with Nong Khai station by rail.

The Friendship Bridge in Nong Khai and Vientiane is a border trade gateway between the two countries. Lao visitors normally cross the bridge to buy Thai goods in Nong Khai or Udon Thani.


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