Cambodia, Laos step up border demarcation effort

Cambodia, Laos step up border demarcation effort

Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith (left) speaks to his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen during a signing ceremony at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (Reuters photo)
Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith (left) speaks to his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen during a signing ceremony at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (Reuters photo)

PHNOM PENH: The leaders of Cambodia and Laos have agreed to step up efforts to complete demarcation of their border, where disputes have led to armed confrontations in recent years.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and his visiting Lao counterpart, Thongloun Sisoulith, agreed in a statement on Thursday to complete the process now that 86% of the border has been marked. The two countries are to add border pillars and produce a map of the borderline as party.

The statement also said the countries would encourage their citizens to act responsibly to turn the frontier area "into a border of lasting peace, friendship and cooperation.''

Cambodia and Laos reportedly dispatched troops to the border region last month in a standoff over the disputed boundary.

There was a similar confrontation in August 2017 when Laos objected to Cambodia's construction of a road in disputed territory.

Thongloun and his delegation are meeting top Cambodian leaders during a two-day visit. Both countries have liberalised their economies, but Laos remains a single-party state and both nations restrict political dissent.

The countries signed four agreements concerning Cambodia's purchase of electricity from Laos, and a memorandum of understanding covering cooperation on labour.

Cambodia faces a shortfall of electricity as it has undergone a construction boom, funded in large part by investment from China. Laos has an electricity surplus from its large hydropower projects.

The power transfers will begin in 2024. Three hundred megawatts will be purchased in 2024, followed by 600 MW in 2025 and 2026, and 900 MW in 2027, the Khmer Times on Wednesday quoted Victor Jona, director-general of the Cambodian Energy Department, as saying.

Two companies – Sekong Power and Mineral Co and Xekong Thermal Power Plant Co – will produce and export the energy to Cambodia at 7.7 cents per kilowatt hour.

Jona remarked that energy consumption in the kingdom has increased dramatically in recent years due to the boom in construction.

“Demand for power has surged by 17 to 20% every year in the last few years. This is the result of a good political situation that encourages investment,” Jona said.

Cambodia’s power demand is expected to continue rising by 20% every year, Jona said, adding that the kingdom will be able to keep up with this demand by increasing imports as well as domestic production.

Jona noted that the energy purchased under the deal will be transferred through a high-voltage transmission line system that will soon be under construction. The energy will be transferred from the border with Laos to Phnom Penh, he said.

After conducting feasibility studies on the project, the Electricite Du Cambodge will soon open tendering to award the construction of the network to a private company, according to Jona.

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