The People’s Committee of the central province of Quang Tri held a meeting on December 2 to discuss ways to accelerate the implementation of the “one-stop shop” model at its international border gate Lao Bao and the Lao counterpart Densavan.

Vietnam and Laos inked a memorandum of understanding on the implementation of the “one-stop shop” model at the Lao Bao-Desavan border gates in 2005 in line with an agreement on facilitating people’s travel and goods transport across border signed by countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS).

Under the MoU, the model would be deployed in four steps, starting with one-stop shop customs check for goods, then expanding to the process of all customs procedures and examination. Next the model would also cover quarantine and health checks and finally be completed with the inclusion of migration control.

In 2012, the countries agreed to take a short cut from step one to step four, but little progress was made in realising the model due to a lack of relevant official documents and a mismatch between regulations of the two sides. The incomplete infrastructure at the two border gates also hindered the implementation.

Therefore, Vietnam and Laos held a meeting at deputy foreign minister level over this issue in February 2014 and agreed to strive to begin a trial run of the “one stop shop” model at Lao Bao border gate on January 1, 2015. To this goal, the two sides have worked out a detailed roadmap and set up a special joint working group to coordinate the preparations.

According to Chairman of the Quang Tri People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chinh, the two sides have signed agreements to create a legal framework for coordinating checking procedures and personnel at the border gates. The two sides have so far fulfilled 8 out of 11 items on the working agenda in legal and procedural terms. The Vietnamese Prime Minister has also approved funding for equipment procurement, allowing Quang Tri to renovate working facilities for joint checks at Lao Bao border gate, Chinh said, adding that the Lao side has also upgraded offices and asked Vietnam to help with purchasing equipment.

In the coming time, the two sides will continue to work on several remaining issues including harmonising health quarantine procedures and customs declaration forms, addressing the shortage of personnel, and upgrading infrastructure in order for the “one stop shop” model at Lao Bao to be launched as scheduled, the official noted.-VNA