Governments to work out ways to reinforce Vietnam-Laos ties hinh anh 1Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (R) and his Lao counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The 40th meeting of the Vietnam-Laos Inter-Governmental Committee, scheduled to take place in Laos on February 4 and 5, will review the implementation of the two counties’ cooperation plan in 2017 and set tasks for this year.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc will lead a high-ranking delegation of the Vietnamese Government to the event at the invitation of his Lao counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith.

Vietnam and Laos set up diplomatic ties on September 5, 1962 and signed a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation on July 18, 1977, which are considered important milestones in bilateral relations.

The two countries organised hundreds of activities during the Vietnam-Laos Solidarity and Friendship Year 2017, attracting the participation of all-level authorities, sectors and a large number of people. Notably, they exchanged nearly 300 delegations at all levels.

During the visits, their leaders reiterated the resolve to enhance the Vietnam-Laos special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation while unceasingly promoting cooperation quality for the sake of each country’s people and for peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world.

As of August 2017, Vietnam was the third biggest foreign investor in Laos, following China and Thailand. Major Vietnamese investment projects in the neighbouring country include the Sekaman No. 1 and 3 hydropower plants, the power transmission line from Sekaman to Vietnam’s Pleiku city, a potassium salt processing project in Khammouane province, and industrial tree planting projects.

The Lao Government assessed Vietnamese investments as effective projects helping to boost socio-economic development and create jobs for local people.

A number of meetings between the two countries’ leaders and Vietnamese businesses investing in Laos have been held, showing the two Governments’ determination to strengthen economic partnership. Vietnamese firms also affirmed that Laos is a potential investment market.

The two sides signed a new trade agreement and a border trade agreement. In 2017, bilateral trade was estimated at over 900 million USD, up 10 percent from a year earlier. Vietnam mainly exported petrol, oil, steel, vehicles and spare parts while importing rubber, fertilizer, ore and minerals from Laos.

[PM to co-chair Vietnam-Laos Inter-Governmental Committee meeting]

Bilateral transport connectivity projects have been accelerated within the framework of bilateral and Greater Mekong Sub-region cooperation. The sides have also worked to expand the one-stop shop model at Lao Bao and Den Savan border gates to other pairs of international border gates along their border line.

Education-training is also a successful cooperation area. Hundreds of Lao students come to Vietnam while a great number of Vietnamese students receive the Lao Government’s scholarships every year. The countries have also implemented many projects improving educational facilities in Laos.

Cultural and tourism cooperation has continued to develop with rising numbers of Laos and Vietnamese tourists to the other’s country. Partnerships in health care have also been tightened, especially between border provinces.

Meanwhile, security and defence ties have also been enhanced in all aspects, especially personnel training. The two countries have done a good job of implementing security and defence agreements, finished the project on increasing and upgrading border markers long their shared border, and signed a protocol on the Vietnam-Laos borderline and border markers and an agreement on regulations on the management of their border and border gates.

Both sides have also pushed ahead with carrying out the two Governments’ agreement on solving the issue of unregulated migration and marriage in their border areas. The search for and repatriation of the remains of Vietnam’s soldiers and voluntary experts have also implemented well.

Vietnam and Laos have coordinated closely and supported each other at regional and international forums and increased cooperation with other ASEAN member countries in building the ASEAN Community and maintaining the bloc’s solidarity and consensus in strategic regional issues.-VNA