Laos and Japan have agreed on a joint development direction for Laos with the two countries joining forces to remove the landlocked nation from Least Developed Country status.
The agreement came at a high-level bilateral meeting held in Vientiane on Tuesday led by the heads of the Lao and Japanese governments, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, who discussed progress towards sustainable development in Laos.
The joint development plan, which will be carried out alongside Laos’ eighth five-year National Socio-Economic Development Plan, focuses on the development of land and air routes, development of power generation, development of human resources for industry, irrigation for agriculture, and public infrastructure.
To expand land and air routes, the cooperation plan aims to develop them as a transportation network that meets ASEAN and international standards and is resistant to natural disasters. In this programme, the two countries will develop road and bridge infrastructure to improve Laos as an inland transportation hub with improved customs clearance, international border checkpoints, and other features that will facilitate the country’s distribution network in the Mekong region.
As a result of Japan’s support, the Project for the Expansion of Vientiane International Airport is making progress, and a programme to develop Laos’ airports will be jointly pursued from a medium- to long-term perspective.
The two countries will jointly engage in promoting the development of power generation and electricity networks to make the maximum use of Laos’ abundant water resources and promote the development of infrastructure for industrial development by ensuring a stable electricity supply. Under this initiative and Innovation Asia, Japan will support the development of Laos’ human resources for the enhancement of its industrial competitiveness, and will also implement measures that enable competent personnel to gain firsthand experience in Japan’s innovative environment.
Under the cooperation plan, irrigation will be made possible so that agricultural commodities that are safe and have a regional flavour can be produced. Health, medical care, education, water works, sewerage systems, electricity and public transport will be put in place in a balanced manner in cities and regions, and green growth will be promoted throughout the country.
In this plan, Japan will implement high-quality support on both tangible and intangible fronts to strengthen Laos’ connectivity with its neighbours, based on the Partnership for Quality Infrastructure and Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure and under the Japan-Mekong Connectivity Initiative.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Japan committed to provide a non-project grant of about 500 yen (about 39.8 billion kip) for activities to be implemented this year. Japan tops the list of foreign countries providing Official Development Assistance to Laos, offering about US$100 million annually.
About 20 Japanese grant projects have been implemented in Laos every year aiming to improve the livelihoods of the Lao people at the grassroots level. Prime Minister Thongloun thanked the Japanese government for the official development assistance provided to Laos in the past, and especially Ja pan’s commitment on this year’s non-project grant. During his visit to Laos, Prime Minister Abe paid a courtesy visit to President Bounnhang Vorachit at the Presidential Office.
Source: Vientiane Times