Nong Khai wants change after border trade buzz dies post-Covid
The Nong Khai Chamber of Commerce is urging the government to improve border trade as consumer behaviour in Laos has changed a lot after the Covid-19 crisis.
Duangjai Sukkasemsin, the chamber’s vice president, said border trade was buzzing before the crisis as many Laotians came across to purchase consumer goods. She said wealthy Laotians also travelled across to take flights to Bangkok and then to other countries.
“But travel restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 crisis has caused the border trade to drop by more than 60 per cent,” she said.
She said consumer behaviour has transformed after the Covid-19 crisis, as most Laotians only go to Udon Thani to see the doctor, refuel their vehicles or purchase necessities.
Duangjai added that very few Laotians are coming across to Nong Khai to purchase necessities as markets, shopping malls and supermarkets in Vientiane are far more convenient and the prices are the same if not lower than in Thailand.
“Foreign investors have introduced big changes in Laos, with many 4- to 5-star hotels being built in Vientiane,” she said.
She added that now travellers preferred to put up in Vientiane as hotels are cheaper there and they can take the China-Laos high-speed railway to continue their journey.
“Soon Thais will be crossing the Mekong River to go shopping in Vientiane instead,” she added.
She explained that the China-Laos railway has been a boon for investors, and believes Laos will benefit from a surge in tourists once China reopens.
Also, she said, plans to develop a rail-and-road link between Laos, Vietnam and China will transform Laos from a land-locked country to a land-linked economy.
Hence, she said, the government should reform border trade in the upper Northeast by doing such things as boosting the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises and establishing special economic zones to attract investment.