Laos, Thailand and Vietnam recently began implementing their Cross Border Transport Agreement, allowing their passenger cars and commercial trucks to proceed directly to final destinations in each other’s country via Route 9 in Laos’ Savannakhet Province, which serves as a link. Lao authorities are confident that this will be beneficial for trade and investment expansion in their central province.The accord is a result of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that the three neighbors signed several years ago agreeing to begin cooperation in this area by August 2007, but implementation was delayed due to various reasons. Authorities believe that, once implemented, the agreement will bring benefits to their countries, boosting economic development, trade, investment and tourism services, as it will speed up overland transport significantly.
In addition, cargos will be inspected only once at the point of origin. And visa is not required for passengers or travelers who are citizens of the three nations.
Under the agreement, up to 400 commercial vehicles from each country are allowed to enter neighboring countries, using Route 9 in Laos’ Savannakhet Province. Lao officials are confident that Savannakhet will benefit greatly in the future from its status as the hub of this East-West Economic Corridor, as it will bring more foreign investment that eventually will help reduce the poverty of Lao people as well.
In the first six months of the 2008-2009 fiscal year, Laos has granted investment licenses for a total of 116 projects, valued at US $3,600 million, with 81 projects going to Savannakhet Province. However, Laos has seen its exports decreased more than 11% compared to the same period of the 2007-2008 fiscal year, a direct impact of the global financial crisis.
Songrit Pongern reported from Bangkok on June 21, 2009. Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao. (English translation by Buasawan Simmala and Dara Baccam.)