Laos, Thailand to Implement Permanent Border Checkpoint, Boost Trade Cooperation

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Laos and Thailand are working together to elevate a temporary border trade checkpoint to a permanent facility. (Photo: BNN Breaking)

Update;
Laos and Thailand have joined forces to elevate a temporary border trade checkpoint to a permanent facility, aiming to bolster trade relations between the two countries.

Local authorities from both nations recently discussed enhancing the checkpoint linking Paksaphan village in the Lakhonepheng district of Salavanh Province with Ban Pak Saeng in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani’s Na Tan district.

The decision to upgrade the checkpoint stems from the current restrictions on certain goods, limiting their sale and transport at the site. It is anticipated that this upgrade will pave the way for the complete opening of cross-border trade, with the upgrade being scheduled to commence within the next few months.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Lao-Thai cross-border trade at the checkpoint was estimated to exceed THB 2.8 billion (USD 77.8 million) annually. Despite the halt in trade caused by the pandemic, discussions between both Lao and Thai authorities have instilled renewed hope for the revival of trade activities.

Salavanh Province, renowned for its abundant cassava production among other provinces in Laos, holds significant potential for trade expansion.

Looking ahead, the impending completion of the 6th Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, spanning the Mekong River from Salavanh’s Lakhonepheng district to Na Tan district of Ubon Ratchathani Province on the Thai side, is expected to further boost cross-border trade.

Upon completion, the 6th Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge will also substantially shorten the trade route from Thailand to Vietnam’s Danang city via Laos, reducing it to 137 kilometers.

Feasibility studies and design plans for the bridge project have been finalized, with both countries currently negotiating their respective contributions to the construction costs. 

Once these negotiations conclude, the Thai Transport Ministry will seek cabinet approval for the project, followed by budget allocation and subsequent construction, slated to commence next year and conclude by 2028, according to the Bangkok Post.

Meanwhile, to boost regional trade, progress on the 5th Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge connecting Laos’ Bolikhamxay Province to Bung Kan Province in northeastern Thailand is nearing completion, with its public opening anticipated later this year. The inauguration of this bridge is expected to streamline the movement of goods, people, and services, further enhancing trade between Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.