Laos and China, whose peoples have co-existed in peace and harmony since ancient times, have seen increasingly closer cooperation in various fields, especially trade, investment, transport and border, according to Lao newspaper Vientiane Times on Friday.
The two countries have witnessed the sound development of their economic and trade relations over the past 10 years. They have cooperated in trade, investment, tourism and transport, with the establishment of a committee on bilateral economic trade and technological cooperation.
Laos-China trade stood at 2.1 trillion kip (241 million U.S. dollars) in 2006, up 70 percent from 2005. Of the two-way trade, exports from Laos to China were over 477 billion kip (more than 54 million dollars), up nearly 95 percent. Their trade was just 247 million kip (28 million dollars) in 1998.
The governments of Laos and China are striving to increase trade to 9.6 billion kip (roughly 1 billion dollars) in the next few years. Lao exports include timber and wood products, agricultural items, and minerals, and Chinese exports are mainly industrial and specialist equipment, and raw and construction materials.
Laos' exports are set to increase due to the proliferation of rubber plantations in its northern provinces. The country currently has 35,100 hectares of rubber trees nationwide. Another new export from Laos to China is lacquer, with an initial plan for sales of 500-1,000 tons in 2009.
Since 1990 when Chinese companies started building factories in Laos, Lao-China investment cooperation had, by the end of 2007, involved in hydroelectricity, industry, mining, transport and service. With a total of 284 projects totaling over one billion dollars, China has become a major investor in Laos.
In 1992, Laos, Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam entered a program of regional economic cooperation (Greater Mekong Sub-region or GMS), under which the development of the 228-km Highway R3 from Bokeo province to Luang Namtha province makes up a vital stretch of the North-South Economic Corridor. This is part of an international north-south superhighway linking China with Thailand, and a core infrastructure element of GMS policy.
The direct link between China and Thailand via Laos will significantly reduce transport costs in the area, and increase the efficiency of vehicles, goods and passenger transit. It will also link the two remote provinces of Laos with the outside world, and help reduce poverty by providing access to markets, income, and employment opportunities, and enhancing development potentials.
Laos and China have witnessed growing friendly contact and cooperation in such other spheres as border, politics, diplomacy, culture, media, health education and training.
Having found a successful solution to any possible boundary disputes in a relatively short time through friendly consultation, the governments of the two countries have set an example for other states to resolve boundary issues through peaceful talks. The Lao-Sino border has become a peaceful, friendly and stable area, the newspaper said.