In the first ten months of 2019, trade was a bright spot in Vietnam-Laos relations with two-way trade reaching US$940 million, which is still expected to increase to US$1.1-1.2 billion by year end, up 12.6% year on year and beating the set target of 10%.
Of the figure, Laos’ exports to Vietnam reached nearly US$400 million, up 16%.
To date, Vietnam has invested US$4.22 billion in 413 projects in Laos, making it the third largest foreign investors in the landlocked country.
Vietnam has also agreed to buy 1,200 megawatts of electricity generated by Laos, exceeding the planned target of 1,200 megawatts for 2020. Vietnam’s electricity import from Laos will increase to 5,000 megawatts by 2030 in order to facilitate Laos’ socio-economic development.
During the 2016-2020 period, Vietnam provides VND3.250 trillion (about US$140 million) to Laos in non-refundable aid to help the neighbouring country develop infrastructure, train officials and support social welfare.
Vietnam has granted more than 1,000 scholarships to Lao students studying in Vietnam and provided funds for various projects. In 2019, five Vietnamese-funded projects in Laos have been completed and put into use.
However, there are several projects where bilateral cooperation is facing issues such as slow disbursement, obstacles in procedures and capital shortage.
On the cooperative spirit, the Prime Minister and the cabinet have instructed on measures to remove difficulties and prepare for a meeting of the Vietnam-Laos Intergovernmental Committee chaired by the two countries’ PMs scheduled for the first quarter of 2020.