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Monday, July 15, 2024

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Visits Laos to Foster Friendship and Cooperation

This Week

Australia’s Foreign Minister, Penny Wong traveled to Vientiane, Laos this week. The visit from 15-16 May, followed the successful visit to Australia by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Laos, Saleumxay Kommasith in October last year.

The visit built on Australia’s deep and enduring friendship with Laos of over 70 years and provided an opportunity for Minister Wong to listen to and understand Laos’ national priorities for trade and investment, development cooperation, and regional connectivity. Minister Wong’s time in Laos reflects the commitment made between our Prime Ministers last November when they announced an intention to elevate the Laos-Australia relationship to a Comprehensive Partnership.

Minister Wong held productive discussions with Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith, and Head of the External Relations Committee of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Thongsavanh Phomvihane.

Discussions acknowledged the considerable changes underway in the region and navigating these changes together, including through ASEAN. Australia and Laos shared views on priorities for cooperation in education, growing human resource capacity, the energy sector, water resource management, and people-to-people links.

Visit to Laos by Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Builds Friendship and Cooperation
Australia’s Foreign Minister, Penny Wong shakes hands with Prime Minister of Laos, Sonexay Siphandone

The visit confirmed Australia’s commitment to deepening its economic engagement with the region, including through the development of a Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040, to be released later this year.

Australia and Laos will lift cooperation in the energy sector. Minister Wong and Laos’ Minister of Energy and Mines, Mr. Phosay Sayasone, signed the Laos-Australia Sustainable Energy Partnership which will work to support a more sustainable, reliable, and profitable energy sector in Laos.

To advance shared priorities for the environment and sustainability, Australia will partner with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Global Green Growth Institute to establish a national framework for participation in international carbon markets.

The friendship between the two countries is grounded in mutual respect and trust, forged through many years of close relations and longstanding people-to-people links. Minister Wong and Mr. Thongsavanh signed a Declaration of Shared Intent to establish a Laos-Australia Friendship Association to enhance dialogue, understanding, and people-to-people connections between Australia and the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.

Australia and Laos will work together on shared goals with our regional partners, for example, through trilateral cooperation with Vietnam. Australia is pleased to be working with Laos and Vietnam on initiatives to share experiences in attracting high-quality foreign direct investment.

The Minister met emerging Lao business leaders from Australia’s university alumni network to discuss ways to build Laos’ future together. Australia’s alumni make an enormous contribution to Laos, including Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith. We are proud of this shared history and pleased we can continue to strengthen these people-to-people connections.

Minister Wong visits Na Haidiew Primary School in Vientiane

Australia’s support for Laos’ education sector was on display during the visit to Na Haidiew Primary School in Vientiane. Minister Wong met with Laos’ Vice Minister of Education and Sports, Dr. Sisouk Vongvichit and the school community. Australia’s support for the implementation of the new National Curriculum nationwide will help raise the education levels of Laos’ future workforce.

The Minister was pleased to announce further support for the COVID-19 vaccine and routine immunization, including at the sub-national level through a partnership with the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization, building on the USD 25.2 million provided to date.

Minister Wong reiterated Australia’s commitment to supporting Laos to deliver a successful ASEAN Chair in 2024. Laos has an important role to play in Southeast Asia’s future and Australia is committed to working together to build a safe, stable, and prosperous region where ASEAN and ASEAN-led institutions hold the canter.

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