Mekong Monitor: Vietnam, Laos to step up cooperation in trade and energy





Vietnam, Laos to step up cooperation in trade and energy
(18 August 2019) Vietnam and Laos’ ministries of trade and energy held their annual cooperation meetings in Vientiane on August 16-18 to discuss bilateral development cooperation in the areas of industry, trade, energy and mining. According to local media, both sides lauded the 10% growth in bilateral trade between the countries — fulfilling a target set by the countries’ leaders during a prior inter-governmental meeting. Furthermore, Vietnamese trade minister Tran Tuan Anh raised several issues faced by Vietnamese companies when doing business in Laos, such as delays in goods clearance and origin inspection. Lao energy and mines minister Khammani Inthilath, for his part, raised the possibility of Vietnam purchasing thermal and wind power from energy projects in Laos in the near future. Both sides agreed that their immediate steps post-meeting would include designing a plan to implement energy and mining cooperation agreements, and negotiating a memorandum of understanding to develop border trade and infrastructure along their shared border. Revenues from trade between both countries reached US$663.8 million in the first seven months of 2019, a 13.1% year-on-year increase.
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Vietnamese, Lao provinces to sign 2020-2022 cooperation agreement
(16 August 2019) Vietnam’s Quang Tri province and Laos’ Savannakhet and Salavan provinces agreed to ink a cooperation period for the 2020-2022 period following talks in Quang Tri on August 16. According to Vietnamese media, the agreement will include clauses to boost trade at the Lao Dao and La Lay border gates and auxiliary border gates, as well as other support and tax incentives for businesses and investors. The three provinces also pledged to boost cooperation in the area of agricultural and rural development, such as through technology transfers to boost agriculture capabilities.
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Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia commemorate 20th anniversary of Development Triangle
(17 August 2019) A two-day forum was held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam (CLV) Development Triangle in northern Vietnam’s Quang Ninh province on August 17. During the event, representatives from each country lauded the positive results from their partnership, such as investment from the Vietnamese side of up to US$3.6 billion in 116 projects in Lao and Cambodian localities. They also pointed to ongoing issues including poor infrastructure, human resource quality, and smuggling and trade frauds. The CLV Development Triangle zone comprises 13 localities from the three countries covering 144,300 square kilometres and a combined population of over seven million.
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Vietnam aims to sell stakes in nearly 100 state firms by end-2020
(15 August 2019) The Vietnamese government will accelerate its privatisation plans by aiming to sell its stake in 93 state-owned firms by the end of 2020. These include the sale of a 35% stake in the country’s largest bank by assets Agribank, the country’s biggest coal miner Vietnam National Coal Mineral Industries Holding Corp, and the Vietnam Northern Food Corp. Furthermore, the government will also sell up to 50% of its stakes in mobile telecommunications company MobiFone, and in the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group and the Vietnam National Chemical Group. Additionally, the government aims to sell 100% of Vietnam Paper Corp. and two power-generating units under the Vietnam Electricity Group.
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Foreign investment more than doubles in 1H 2019
(20 August 2019) Thailand’s Board of Investment (BoI) received 758 new investment project applications in the first half of 2019, said the board’s secretary-general Duangjai Asawachintachit. This was a 7% increase from the same period last year. Of the sum, 57% of applicants came from industrial companies in the electrical appliance, automotive, agricultural and food processing sectors. Furthermore, foreign investors invested US$4.77 billion in 468 projects in Thailand, representing a 109% increase from the US$2.27 billion invested during the same period last year. Most of these investments came from Japan (US$1.36 billion), China (US$779 million), Switzerland (US$357 million), Singapore (US$247 million), and Hong Kong (US$237 million).
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About Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)

The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Programme was launched by the Asian Development Bank in 1992 connecting five developing ASEAN countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, and Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region. The region has some of the most robust economies sharing the Mekong River Basin thanks to its reform and liberalisation. The subregion is growing at a faster pace than the whole of East Asia and the Asia Pacific as the GDP growth rate for 2017 was at 6.4 percent, according to the World Bank. The population at the subregion as of 2016 is at 340 million while the GDP at PPP is at US$3.1 trillion in 2016. In 2015, trading within the region was at US$444 billion.

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