Investment programmes and projects between Vietnam and Laos should be sped up to bring practical benefits to both countries, said participants at the plenary session of the National Assembly (NA) Committee for External Affairs in Ho Chi Minh City on July 9.

The committee’s members asked relevant ministries and agencies and local authorities to follow high-ranking agreements between the two governments to build specific cooperation programmes and clarify investment mechanisms and forms of cooperation.

Cooperation between Vietnamese and Lao businesses should be defined by a close, consistent and stable legal framework, they said.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), except for government-level projects, Ho Chi Minh City leads the country in the scale of cooperation and investment in Laos . The city’s activities cover a wide range of areas such as industry, rubber planting, training, health, culture, humanitarian aid and financial assistance.

In Vientiane and Champasak provinces, HCM City has been implementing a series of large-scale investment and cooperation projects, including a trade centre in Champasak, a joint venture between the Vissan Company and Nonghen Centre and three supermarkets in Vientiane.

A number of industrial, agricultural and forestry projects have been kicked off, including a 32 million USD rubber planting project in Champasak and Attapu provinces, a 1.2 million USD seed corn growing project and an export wood processing joint venture worth nearly 1 million USD.

The Saigon Plastic Company’s 1.3 million USD household plastic utensil factory has seen increasing growth since it became operational in December 2004.

A MoFA representative said that Vietnam’s projects are appreciated by the Lao authorities and people as they have helped reduce poverty in rural areas and ensure the country’s security and social order.

Regarding education and training, since 2002, HCM City has trained 235 Lao students and provided Savannakhet, Luang Phrabang, Salavan, Sekong and Attapu provinces with 5-20 scholarships each.

The city has also attached importance to projects in culture, sports, health and humanitarian aid. It has so far given free eye surgeries to nearly 5,000 poor people in the neighbour country./.