Lao Bao border gate facilitates trade between Vietnam and Laos. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) –
The upcoming visit to Laos made by Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong from February 24-25 is expected to serve as a launching pad for both nations to tap their economic cooperation potential to the fullest extent.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), effective border trade management tools have been applied by the two Governments in recent years, helping the bilateral trade reach more than 1 billion USD in 2018, up 13 percent against the previous year and fulfilling the trade growth target set at the 40th meeting of the Vietnam-Laos Inter-Governmental Committee.

A bilateral trade agreement and a border trade deal signed in 2015 together with various cooperation agreements in the fields of investment, transport, security-defence, and agriculture have laid the legal foundation for and provided the prerequisite for bilateral economic and trade relations to grow, said Do Quoc Hung, Deputy Head of the MoIT’s Asia-Africa Market Department.

Also, Hung said cooperation programmes between the two ministries of industry and trade, such as the Vietnam-Laos trade development project, the MoU on the establishment of the Vietnam-Laos economy and trade portal, have greatly helped to enhance bilateral trade as well as border trade in particular.

However, the trade growth is still a far cry from the potential of each nation, the official said, adding that trade exchanges at some border gates are still sluggish.

He noted that Vietnamese firms have met with many difficulties when exporting to Laos as their products are facing fierce competition with those from China and Thailand, which account for 80 percent of Laos’ imports.

In addition, trade infrastructure at border gates, as well as payment and transport services between the two countries need improvements, Hung said.

This year, Vietnam and Laos eye a growth of at least 10 percent in their trade revenue. They will promote connectivity between the two economies, particularly in the fields of transport, energy, sustainable use of water and natural resources, and human resources training, the MoIT said.-VNA