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

Source: Vientiane Times

Greater connectivity is a major goal for Laos and also for ASEAN. To this end the World Bank and the Lao government have begun a US$200 million project with multiple partners in northern Laos, called 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 Xayaboury.

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.

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The project has different partners, with Australia contributing more than US$12 million Australian dollars 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.

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

The Executive Director for Partnerships for Infrastructure, Ms Elena Rose 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.”