Neighbours get to work on new bilateral projects

February 21, 2019 | 10:00
Vietnam is to continue tweaking and improving on its strong co-operation with neighbouring Laos and Cambodia in the sectors of trade, investment, and energy.
neighbours get to work on new bilateral projects
Mobile phone operator UNITEL is one of the companies involved in strengthening ties between Laos and Vietnam, Photo: Le Toan

Authorised agencies of Vietnam and Laos are now working with each other to seek investment capital for strategic co-operation projects, including the 725 kilometre Hanoi-Vientiane ­Expressway, and the Vung Ang-Tan Ap-Mu Gia-Thakhek-Vientiane railway.

Both nations are also seeking investment capital for several other roads, while asking Vietnam’s Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group to boost the implementation of Nongkhang Airport in Houaphanh province, so that it can begin operations this year.

According to a bilateral co-operation plan for 2019 signed at the 41st meeting of the Vietnam-Laos Inter-Governmental Committee organised in Hanoi last month, both governments committed to “further facilitate Vietnamese investors into Laos and Laotian investors into Vietnam to seek investment opportunities and implement their projects. Priorities will be given to enterprises of both nations in implementing projects in areas along the joint border.”

Trade turnover in 2018 for both nations hit nearly $1 billion, up nearly 14 per cent on-year, with Vietnam enjoying a trade surplus. The two countries are striving to keep a stable increase of at least 10 per cent in bilateral trade turnover against last year.

They have also vowed to boost energy co-operation, in which Vietnam will continue developing hydropower projects in the latter, connecting electricity systems.

Laos will soon provide comments on the project to construct a warehouse and a petrol conducting pipe from Hon La Port in Vietnam’s central province of Quang Binh to the Laotian central province of Khammouane, so that both governments can officially negotiate the implementation of this project.

According to statistics from Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment, Laos currently has 409 licensed Vietnamese projects, with the total registered capital of $4.1 billion. In 2018, Vietnam licensed eight projects to be invested in the neighbouring nation, with the total registered capital of $95 million, up 2.6 times against the previous year. Vietnam is also financing Laos to build its National Assembly building.

Meanwhile, it is likely that a Vietnam-Cambodia business forum will be held next week, with the two countries inking new co-operation deals.

The two countries agreed to continue fostering partnerships in sectors such as education and training, border trade, tourism, telecommunications, minerals, aviation, banking, oil and gas, agriculture, and electric power.

Under a joint statement on strengthening the Vietnam-Cambodia friendship inked in July 2017, both countries affirmed that economic and investment ties will continue serving as one of the key bilateral co-operation pillars. The two sides also set the goal of raising bilateral trade volume to $5 billion before 2025.

To this end, Vietnam and Cambodia pledged to continue removing all hurdles facing enterprises of both sides, and boosting the connection of their road infrastructure, energy, and agro-forestry and aquatic product trading.

The two nations also agreed to boost the simplification of export-import and quarantine procedures, and step up the curbing of cross-border trade fraud and smuggling.

Currently, Vietnam has 210 valid investment projects in Cambodia, registered at over $3 billion, focusing on many sectors such as telecommunications, banking, aviation, and agriculture.

Many Vietnamese investors have been operating in Cambodia over recent years such as Viettel, Vietnam Rubber Group, PetroVietnam, Vietnam Airlines, VinaCapital, Vinacomin, Saigontourists, and Saigon Co.op. Meanwhile, Cambodia currently has 19 operational projects in Vietnam, registered at $63.42 million, engaging in agriculture, forestry, aquaculture, and trade.

Two-way trade hit $4.68 billion last year, up 23.76 per cent on-year, with Vietnam earning a trade surplus of $2.77 billion.

By Thanh Thu

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