Australia Joins World Bank to Support Laos’ Land-Linked Agenda

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Greater connectivity is a goal for Laos and a goal for ASEAN. This is why the World Bank and the Government of Laos have commenced a USD 200 million project with multiple partners in northern Laos: the Southeast Asia Regional Economic Corridor and Connectivity project. 

Aligning with the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity, the project will upgrade Laos’ National Road 2, which connects Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, to create a new East-West corridor. It will also connect local roads in Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay, Phongsaly, and Xayabouly. 

The project is working across five northern provinces to improve transportation, facilitate trade, and expedite the movement of goods and people. 

By enhancing transport connectivity, the project will facilitate better access to vital services including education and healthcare, especially in rural areas. The project approach is inclusive with a strong focus on gender equality and environmental protection.

The project has different partners, with Australia contributing more than AUD 12 million (USD 7.8 million) through the Partnerships for Infrastructure regional program. 

Australia is focusing on key components of the project, including improving border crossing facilities and strengthening the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. 

Sombath Southivong, the World Bank Team Lead, said, “The project supports Laos’ economic priorities and the vision for Laos to develop from being a landlocked country to a land-linked country.” 

Elena Rose, the Executive Director for Partnerships for Infrastructure, said, “Australia is trying to build awareness of the importance of quality infrastructure and to strengthen the capabilities of government partners to ensure that infrastructure drives sustainable, inclusive, and resilient growth.”