Thailand and Laos are on target to boost bilateral trade to US$4 billion (Bt130 billion) in 2015, thanks to closer economic cooperation under the Asean Economic Community (AEC).
This projection was made at the third bilateral meeting of Thailand's Commerce Ministry and the Laos Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry in Vientiane this week.
Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, directorgeneral of the Trade Negotiations Department, said both nations were confident that twoway trade will gradually increase.
Laos is expected to double its exports to Thailand from $1 billion in 2006 to $2 billion in 2015.
Bilateral investment is also expected to expand as investors find it easier to move labour and raw materials under the AEC.
As of last year, Thai investment in Laos more than doubled, from $450.9 million in 2005 to $908.6 million.
To promote trade and investment growth, Thailand has asked Laos to reduce its fee collection on Route 3. The Kingdom also wants Laos to clarify its trade and investment rules for Thai investors so that they have clearer information about doing business in Laos.
Nuntawan added that Thailand has helped Laos organise trade exhibitions and provided advice on logistics to help Laos boost its trade with the outside world.
Thailand is Laos' largest trading partner. Bilateral trade between the two neighbours reached $2.1 billion last year. Thai exports to Laos were worth $1.64 billion, while imports from Laos were valued $462.7 million. Thailand logged a trade surplus of $1.17 billion last year. More than 90 per cent of the trade value between the two nations comes from crossborder trading.
Thai exports to Laos jumped 37 per cent year on year to $1.13 billion in the first five months of the year.
Thailand is the largest foreign investor in Laos, with a combined value of $2.64 billion from 2000 to 2009, accounting for 21.7 per cent of the total foreign direct investment value to Laos. So far, 241 projects from Thailand have invested there. Major businesses are in electricity and energy, mining, telecommunications and agriculture.