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Laos treasures tradition of close friendship with Vietnam

Laos treasures tradition of close friendship


Ambassador Soonthorn Xayachack.

To mark Laos National Day yesterday, Viet Nam News spoke to Lao Ambassador to Viet Nam Soonthorn Xayachack

What do you think about the current diplomatic ties between Viet Nam and Laos?

Laos and Viet Nam set up diplomatic ties in 1962 and we are happy to see that during the last 46 years, our relationship has overcome lots of challenges and become a valuable treasure of the two countries. Our ties have served as a foundation for development, as well as the key to successes of the two countries’ revolutions. Nowadays, our relations have developed in all fields.

How have exchanges in trade and culture activities between provinces along the Viet Nam-Laos border progressed?

Border provinces of the two countries have striven to join hands in socio-economic development. People in the provinces regularly exchange goods and organise cultural exchanges to enhance peace, friendship and sustainable development along the border.

Laos at a glance

Area: 236,
Population: over 6.6 million
Capital: Vientiane
Language: Lao
Currency: kip
National Flag: three horizontal bands of two red and one blue,with a large white disk centred in the blue band.

We highly appreciate the great support of Viet Nam in broadcasting TV and radio programmes and in information, media and publishing. All those activities have contributed to boosting our solidarity and comprehensive co-operation. They have also helped educate people of the two countries, especially younger generations, about our unique ties.

In 2008, bilateral trade turnover is estimated to reach US$450 million, to which exchanges between border provinces contribute a major part. We are striving to achieve the target of $1 billion by 2010 and $2 billion by 2015. Also co-operation in human resource development has been prioritised. Thousands of Laotians have been educated in Viet Nam.

Besides Viet Nam, who are your biggest trading partners and what is your biggest export staples?

Viet Nam is one of Laos’ biggest trading partners, accounting for 16 per cent of total trade. There are also other regional countries, including China. Of those, Thailand is the biggest with 30 per cent and China with 5 per cent.

As for garments, Laos exports 80 per cent to the EU, 10 per cent to the US and 10 per cent to other countries.

What investment advantages does your country offer companies or individuals interested in investing in your country? Are there particular industries that the government is trying to promote?

After the law on foreign investment was approved in 1988, Laos has welcomed foreign investors into the country. With its stable political situation, potentials in land, minerals, hydro-power and the traditional hospitality of Lao people, foreign investment has increased rapidly. So far, there have been 1,134 projects with total value of $6.9 billion implemented in Laos, involved in agricultural production, forestry, mineral exploitation, hydro-power construction, tourism and services.

Lao mahouts (elephant trainers) wear colourful costumes as they are honoured during the annual water festival held in Luang Prabang, as part of ceremony to mark the end of their epic three-month trek across Laos.— AFP/VNA Photo

In recent years, trade and investment between Laos and Viet Nam have gained new achievements. More and more groups and corporations from Viet Nam have come to Laos. By November 2008, they had invested over $810 million in 157 projects in Laos, ranking Viet Nam third among investors, just after Thailand and China. As for 2008, Viet Nam ranks first among investors in Laos.

Where in Laos would you like to recommend foreign visitors for their coming year-end vacations?

Despite being a small country, Laos has many famous and unique destinations for tourism such as Pha That Luang (Great Sacred Stupa) in Vientiane City, the ancient capital Luang Prabang – a world cultural heritage site in northern region, the relic of Khmer temple complex Vat Phu in Champasak Province – a world cultural heritage in the southern region, and the Plain of Jars in northern Xieng Khouang.

I’m sure that people will also love seeing Buddhist pagodas, monks in yellow costumes walking in line from the early morning to receive alms from Buddhist followers, pristine rivers and forests, together with the friendly smiles of local people. — VNS

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