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China extends bilateral cooperation with Laos
Publication Date : 05-09-2013
China has agreed to provide grant aid of 300 million yuan (more than US$49 million) and non-interest loans worth 200 million yuan (more than US$32.6 million) to Laos in 2013.
The agreement was made during recent bilateral talks in China between Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, who confirmed China will provide the grant aid and interest free loans to projects the two sides have agreed on.
The talks were held on the sidelines of the 10th Asean-China Expo, which is taking place from September 3-6 in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
During the talks, Thongsing spoke about the importance of Laos-China cooperative relations. Laos and China agreed to maintain high-level exchanges of delegations on a regular basis.
This would enable the leaders of the two countries to exchange views on regional and international issues as well as lessons learned about the enhancement of the leadership roles of their respective parties and states.
The two sides also discussed a planned high-speed railway which will link Vientiane to the Laos-China border, aiming to enhance logistics and connectivity in the region.
For Laos, the high-speed railway is considered a priority project for cooperation with China. The Lao side therefore proposed that the relevant sectors of both countries accelerate the process and prepare for the bilateral agreement to be signed soon.
Meanwhile, the Chinese side is committed to further supervising the relevant sectors to move the project forward as proposed by the Lao side.
The high speed-railway is important for Laos as it seeks to move from being landlocked to land-linked and better integrate with the rest of the region and the world.
It is also important for Asean as many Asean countries have been considering a similar railway system.
During the bilateral talks, the Chinese Premier Li said that as good neighbours, China and Laos can further promote strategic coordination, economic cooperation and extensive cultural exchange, according to a Xinhua report.
They should aim to speed up major projects on transportation, energy and agriculture, to lift China-Laos relations to a new level.
Thongsing said Laos-China cooperation is of great importance to the economic and social development of Laos.
The annual trade volume between Laos and China has been increasing on a year-on-year basis. In 2010, the trade volume of the two countries reached US$1.04 billion, up 46 percent.
In 2011, the trade volume reached US$1.28 billion, 22.72 per cent higher, and in 2012, the trade value amounted to US$1.728 billion, an increase of 32.8 per cent.
China is also one of the largest foreign investors in Laos, investing in areas ranging from mining to industry and handicrafts, agriculture, hydropower, industrial farms, garments and services.
Thongsing said Laos is committed to maintaining high-level exchanges with China and coordination on international and regional affairs, implementing projects of cooperation and enhancing exchanges in law enforcement, security and culture.
Laos aims to push forward the development of bilateral ties with China and is also willing to make contributions to the promotion of Asean-China ties.