THAILAND AND Laos have agreed to draw up a a five-year master plan to double the value of bilateral trade and investment to US$10 billion (Bt344 billion) by 2021.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak announced the deal yesterday after an official meeting with Laotian Deputy PM and Finance Minister Somdee Duangdee in Vientiane.
“We will collaborate to develop both trade and investment by focusing on logistics, energy, tourism, border trade, industry and the capital market, and also develop small and medium-sized enterprises in both countries,” he said.
“This is in line with the Thai government’s policy to collaborate with the CLMVT subregion [Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand] to facilitate sustainable long-term growth of our country’s economy.”
Joining Somkid in his meeting with Somdee yesterday were Tourism |and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn, Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana, Energy Minister General Anantapon Kanjanarat and Deputy Transport Minister Pichit Akrathit.
The master plan will be steered by the Thai Foreign Ministry and the Lao Planning and Investment Ministry.
Somdee said the meeting would open up opportunities to develop the relationship between the two countries in terms of trade and investment.
His government has encouraged foreign investors to do more business in Laos by revising its investment promotion incentive law, providing a one-stop service to interested investors and offering tax privileges for up to 15 years, depending on the industry.
He said Laos promoted investment in agriculture, processing of agricultural products, electronics, electronic parts, energy, tourism and SMEs.
He added that his country had developed its infrastructure system to link China and Vietnam with Thailand through Laos, while Laos will use Thailand as a gateway for its exports to third countries. Laos also needs Thailand to help it develop its human resources and SMEs, Somdee said.
Somkid said Thailand was to support Laos to expand its economic growth for the long term. This is in line with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha “Growth Together” policy of partnership with neighbouring countries, focusing on CLMVT.
“Laos is the second country that we have officially visited, after Myanmar in February, to promote our CLMVT partnership to drive our economic growth together,” Somkid said.
He added that Laos had high potential for investment by Thai companies of all sizes.
Laos has posted annual economic growth of up to 7.6 per cent over the last five years.
Trade between Thailand and Laos was valued at Bt206.64 billion last year. Thai exports to Laos were worth Bt104.07 billion, and imports from Laos were worth Bt66.57 billion. Up to 98 per cent of total trade value was from border trade.