Transforming landlocked to land-linked

Danial Norjidi

Tomorrow, a 422-kilometre high speed railway connecting the capital of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) to China officially opens, alongside new opportunities for trade and investment for the landlocked country.

“This will be Lao PDR’s first every railway, marking the opening of a new era under the vision to transform landlocked into land-linked,” said Ambassador of Lao PDR to Brunei Darussalam Phonethavy Boutdara.

He said the railway will promote facilitation of regional trade and also the investment of foreign and domestic companies in developing areas along the railway corridor in sectors such as logistic hubs, tourism and commercial agriculture.

The railway is a milestone in the country’s development, one of the many windows of optimism opening as the ASEAN nation marks its 46th anniversary of its founding today. Over the years, Lao PDR has shown progress in various areas recording a rapid development in every sector, said the ambassador.

He said the country enjoys firm political stability, social order as well as sustained economic growth.

Lane Xang EMU train enters a tunnel along the China-Laos railway. PHOTO: XINHUA

“The people’s livelihoods are continuously being improved in a steady manner, especially in terms of education and health outcomes,” he said.

“This moves the country closer towards its vision to remove the country’s status of being a Least Developed Country (LDC) in the near future and to be an upper middle income country by the year 2030.”

The ambassador shared that this year, the Lao PDR faced difficulties due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in economic and social development.

“However, the government has been able to contain the outbreak at a manageable level. Under difficult and challenging circumstances, nevertheless, the Lao Government has continued its effort in implementing the 9th National Socio-Economic Development plan (2021-2025) that was recently adopted by the National Assembly whilst addressing the economic and financial constraints issues.

“Despite the arising challenges, the Government of the Lao PDR’s great effort has successfully helped the country to strive to project its economic growth continuing this year, having its GDP expected to reach a rise of three per cent.

“Lao PDR’s economic growth is majorly driven by the construction, information and communication, and electricity sector with major hydropower projects, alongside mining as well as retail and wholesale sectors.

“Additionally, the imports and exports of the country marked over USD10 billion, a rise of 23.8 per cent as compared to last year.”

In addition to the Laos-China railway, other major projects by the Lao PDR Government include the development of industrial parks and dry ports as well as the Vientiane-Vangvieng Expressway, which the ambassador said will contribute to the economic growth and boost in tourism and industrial sector.

Lao PDR and Brunei Darussalam share a relationship of steady and growing friendship and cooperation.

“Lao PDR and Brunei Darussalam are good neighbours and members of the same family; the ASEAN.

“We have strong confidence that with the joint efforts, strong political will and determination by our two governments and people, the friendship and ties between our two countries will be further strengthened in the interest of our people, for peace, stability and prosperity in our region and the world over.

“Having been in Brunei Darussalam for more than three years, I have witnessed with my own eyes the amount of great achievements recorded by its people.
“Developments are shown not only in the economic sectors, but also in many others. I believe that under the leadership of

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the country will continue to achieve new milestones and success, especially in achieving Brunei Vision 2035.

“With this opportunity, I would like to congratulate His Majesty and the Government on the success of Brunei Darussalam’s ASEAN Chairmanship for 2021 as well as the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and Related Summits.

“Lao PDR will continue to broaden its external relations and international cooperation by adhering to the foreign policy of peace, independence, friendship and cooperation, as well as on the principle of conflict resolution through peaceful means and no-interference in others’ internal affairs.

“In the regional context, the Lao PDR has shown its support towards the ASEAN promotion of peace, stability and security.”