Source: Vientiane Times
Chinese authorities have reopened the border crossing from Boten into China for a three-day test run after it was closed on October 5 when Chinese truck drivers returning from Laos tested positive for Covid-19.
During the test run from November 15-17, all truck drivers in Laos are required to fully comply with the measures laid down by the Chinese Taskforce on Covid-19 Prevention and Control, officials on the Lao side of the border said.
If Lao authorities can ensure that truck drivers strictly follow the rules and no Covid cases are detected during these three days, Chinese authorities will reopen the border, a Lao border official, Mr Thongsy Kanthachak, told Vientiane Times on Monday.
The Chinese taskforce has asked all truck drivers in Laos to quarantine for 21 days, wear personal protective clothing, and clean and disinfect their trucks before handing them over to Chinese drivers on the Chinese side of the border, he said.
Some Chinese truck drivers had tested positive for Covid-19 because truck drivers in Laos were not fully complying with the virus control measures laid down by the Chinese taskforce, Mr Thongsy said.
The Boten border crossing is a major travel and trade route between Laos and China, so it is essential that it is reopened as quickly as possible so that earnings from exports are not lost.
This is especially important because most other border crossings around the country have been closed for many months, Mr Thongsy added.
China remains Laos’ largest export market and is also the largest foreign investor in Laos.
Authorities believe that over the next three months the value of trade between Laos and China will drop significantly because of the closure of the Boten border.
Some 600 trucks loaded minerals and mineral products, rubber and other agricultural products are parked on the Lao side of the border waiting to transport goods to China, Mr Thongsy said.
After the border closed, banana plantation operators in Laos distributed hundreds of tonnes of free bananas to local people as the fruit could not be shipped across the border before it spoiled.
Meanwhile, Luang Namtha authorities have banned the entry of haulage trucks travelling to China from other provinces.
This means the trucks cannot wait in Luang Namtha while they undergo the necessary export procedures and cannot spend time in the province while waiting for the border to reopen.