31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
May 16, 2022 / 17:47

Vietnam, Laos boost construction of road linking two capital cities

There should be special mechanisms for economic ties between the two countries.

The governments of Vietnam and Laos are closely working on the construction of the Hanoi-Vientiane expressway project that will facilitate sea access to land-locked Laos.

 Chairman of Vietnam’s National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue speaks with Vietnamese businesses in Laos on May 15. Photos: Quochoi

The information was released by Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue of Vietnam’s National Assembly who is on his three-day visit to Lao starting on May 15.

Hanoi-Vientiane expressway, which is being built with funding from Japan, will enable Laos to access the sea in Vung Ang Seaport, Vietnam’s central province of Ha Tinh.

Launched in 2016, the 725-km project, with an estimated investment of US$4.5 billion, is expected to boost economic connectivity between the two countries and Thailand’s northeast. 

Hue said the two countries' economic ties need to be boosted to become commensurate to the strong political relations, calling on both sides to harness their potential to increase the trade values beyond the curent modest amount of US$1.3 billion.

 Chairman Hue meets representatives of the Vietnamese community in Laos.

Tightening political links

This is Hue’s first official visit to Laos since he took office in February 2021. He is also the first guest of the Lao National Assembly since the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Congress in January 2021.

Hue is also the first Vietnamese top leader to visit the neighboring country in the Friendship Year 2022 when the two countries celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations and 45 years of the Lao-Vietnamese Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, demonstrating Vietnam’s top priority in strengthening the relationship that is called “especially pure and extremely solid.”

The visit also affirmed the importance and vitality of the Vietnam-Laos relationship in ensuring political stability, defense and security, and socio-economic development as well as boosting political trust between the two parties and the peoples. At the same time, it reiterates Vietnam’s strong and comprehensive support for the implementation of the Lao socio-economic development plan 2021-2025.

Hue’s agenda in Laos includes meeting with Lao top leaders to review cooperation results of the two parliaments, discuss measures to complete the legal framework, supervise the execution of common projects, and seek support for post-pandemic recovery.

On the first day in Laos, Hue met the Vietnamese community, of which many people have settled down for generations. During the meeting, the expatriates asked Vietnam to increase scholarships for Lao students of Vietnamese origin, and create more jobs for the community. 

Hue asked related ministries to process the recommendations, including labor cooperation for Vietnamese businesses working in Laos.  

 Lao Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone at the meeting with Vietnamese investors. 

Economic ties in focus

Boosting economic ties is one of the issues on Hue’s agenda in Laos where he met Lao senior officials and Vietnamese businesses investing in Laos on May 15.

Addressing the meeting, Hue said there should be special mechanisms for the special relations to facilitate Vietnamese investors in Laos while asking Vietnamese companies to boost their competitiveness.

At the meeting, Lao Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone said Laos has been amending its legal system to improve the investment environment and draw domestic and foreign private investment. He noted that the Lao legal framework has been much improved in the business environment eased thanks to agreements signed with Vietnam. Currently, the related agencies are joining hands to facilitate the license of overseas investment. 

Representatives of Vietnamese businesses requested smooth transport between Vietnam, Lao and regional countries; building mechanisms for using and exchanging Lao kip (LAK) and Vietnam dong (VND) in investment and trade; revising laws on investment and business; soft loans from Vietnam to development projects in Laos, mostly in remote areas; and improving the capacity of Vietnamese banks in Laos to better support Vietnamese investors there.

On the same day, Hue met executives of Lao-Viet Bank (LVB), the commercial representative of the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) in Laos.

LVB is currently the third-largest in the Lao banking system with total assets worth $1.1 billion from $100 million since its establishment in 1999. With the presence in nine out of 18 cities and provinces across Laos, the bank is tasked with promoting Vietnam’s investment in Laos.

Over the past years, LVB has been among the top contributors to the Lao budget. Taking the lead in digital banking, it has provided tax and fee collection services to the government of Laos.