The 38th meeting of the intergovernmental committee takes place in Vientiane on Dec. 27 (Photo: VNA)

Vientiane (VNA) – The Intergovernmental Committee on bilateral cooperation between Vietnam and Laos convened its 38th meeting in Vientiane on December 27, having a close look at the execution of the Vietnam-Laos Cooperation Agreement since 2011.

Representing the Vietnamese side at the meeting were Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc – Chairman of the Vietnam-Laos cooperation sub-committee and Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung – Vice Chairman of the sub-committee. The Lao side was led by Deputy Prime Minister Somsavad Lengsavat – Chairman of the Laos-Vietnam cooperation sub-committee and Vice Chairman of the sub-committee Khamphoi Keokinaly.

At the meeting, the two sides shared the view that the Vietnam-Laos Cooperation Agreement for the 2011-2015 period has been implemented effectively as seen in outcomes recorded in various aspects.

The countries coordinated to successfully organise visits and meetings between their senior leaders and set up an annual exchanging mechanism between their foreign ministers and chairmen of the Party central committees’ commissions for external relations.

They successfully held the Vietnam-Laos Friendship and Solidarity Year 2012 and activities to mark their respective major anniversaries. They also closely worked together at regional and international forums.

The officials underlined the enhanced defence-security cooperation, illustrated in their resolve to complete the project of increasing and upgrading their border marker system, the progress in addressing unorganised migration and unlicensed marriage in the countries’ shared border areas. Efforts have also been made to search for and repatriate remains of Vietnamese’s voluntary soldiers and experts in Laos.

In terms of investment, by the end of December, Laos has licensed 413 projects worth over 4.9 billion USD of Vietnamese investors. The implementation of Vietnam’s investment projects in Laos have been facilitated, contributing to local growth and employment.

Vietnam and Laos signed a bilateral trade agreement in March 2015 and another on cross-border trade three months later. Two-way trade increased continuously, reaching an estimated 1.3 billion USD this year.

Meanwhile, the two sides also paid attention to tightening transport connectivity by signing a memorandum of understanding on cooperative strategy in transport for 2016-2020 in September this year. The application of the one-stop custom check model at Vietnam’s Lao Bao and Laos’s Densavan border gates has become an outstanding example in the region.

The officials also highlighted the expansion of their nations’ collaboration in education and human resources training, noting that 9,295 Lao officials and students have studied in Vietnam as of present. The blueprint for improving the quality and effectiveness of their affiliation in education-training and human resources development between 2011 and 2020 has also been strongly carried out.

Connections between their localities, particularly those in border areas, have also been intensified and become fruitful, participants said, adding that the intergovernmental committee has overhauled its performance and swiftly and effectively tackled emerging issues.

Shortcomings and obstacles in their cooperation were also discussed in a straightforward manner, such as the not-as-expected execution of certain content in the Cooperation Agreement, the cumbersome investment registration procedures, and the management of Vietnamese labourers in Laos which was not in conformity with the labour cooperation agreement inked in July 2013.

They agreed that in the next five years, the countries will improve the effectiveness of existing cooperation mechanisms, especially the annual consultation at the foreign ministerial level and cooperative mechanisms between external relations agencies. Vietnam will support Laos in performing its role as ASEAN chair in 2016.

Vietnam and Laos will improve conditions for each other’s investors, regularly examine their investment projects to offer support measures, and work together for a trade turnover rise of 20 percent in 2016.

They concurred in continuing to grant scholarships to each other’s officials and students and effectively carry out the blueprint for strengthening bilateral ties in education. Vietnam pledged to offer 1,000 scholarships for Laos while Laos also vowed to give its neighbour 60 scholarships in 2016.

The two countries will also implement deals on transport connectivity, particularly the Vientiane-Hanoi highway project, as best as possible, the participating officials said.

Concluding the 38th meeting, the two sides inked a bilateral cooperation agreement for 2016-2020, the cooperation plan for next year, and a number of other cooperation documents.-VNA