China has agreed to assist Laos across three initiatives as part of its efforts to strengthen cooperative ties between the two countries.
The new assistance was announced following an official visit to Laos yesterday by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
According to Vientiane Times, the three initiatives will see China supplying materials to Laos to fight dengue fever, the beginning of Phase 2 of the rural development infrastructure project, and China offering a Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) to 97% of Laos’ export goods.
The two sides also agreed in principle to facilitate the transport of goods across border crossings between Laos and China, according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A fast-track immigration policy was also discussed, which would allow certain privileges to Chinese individuals with respect to entry and exit procedures, particularly for diplomatic staff, technical experts, and essential foreign workers.
These measures will help to boost the economy in Laos while ensuring the smooth implementation of Chinese development projects during the Covid-19 pandemic.
China was Laos’ second-largest trading partner in 2019, with bilateral trade valued at USD 3.5 billion, up 17.4 percent compared to 2018.
Foreign Minister Wang also met with the President of Laos, Bounnhang Vorachit, on Wednesday to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation.
President Bounnhang said the relationship between Laos and China has maintained positive momentum for development despite the COVID-19 pandemic. He expressed thanks, on behalf of the Party and Government to the Chinese government and people for their great support in Laos’ fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said that Laos firmly supports China in safeguarding its legitimate rights and interests, and stands with China to jointly build the Laos-China community of shared future, according to a report in Xinhua.
The Chinese foreign minister noted that in the face of post-pandemic challenges, China and Laos should each make efforts to coordinate epidemic control with economic development.
He also said that China is willing to offer Laos priority access to vaccines once they are successfully developed and put into use.
On the same day, Foreign Minister Wang met with Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, saying he appreciated Laos’ strong support for China during the crucial period of fighting the Covid-19 outbreak.
Prime Minister Thongloun expressed his gratitude to China for its assistance in socio-economic development, and for the assistance provided in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said Laos and CHina are friends and comrades with an unbreakable friendship.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi is in Laos as part of a tour of ASEAN, having first visited Cambodia, and going on to Malaysia and Thailand, with a final stop in Singapore.