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China Remains Laos’s Largest Export Market

Source: Vientiane Times

China is set to remain the largest export market for Laos, according to data on exports during the first nine months of this year.  

Exports from Laos to China during this period were worth US$1.644 billion, while exports to Vietnam were valued at more than US$900 million and exports to Thailand were worth more than US$700 million, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

The main exports included copper, rubber, bananas, cassava and other agricultural products. Agriculture was an important sector in bolstering Laos’s exports to China.

The China-Laos Railway provides a vital connectivity channel between China and its largest trading partner, the Asean bloc.

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The rail link is a major project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the railway’s launch created favourable conditions for boosting trade between Laos and China.

The cargo transportation volume of the China-Laos railway passed the 10 million tonnes benchmark on Monday after achieving a capacity increase for several consecutive months since its launch last December, according to China Railway Kunming Bureau Group.

So far, 25 cities and provinces in China have opened transportation service lines for the China-Laos cargo train, and the number of two-way trains dispatched has expanded from just one train per day to six trains.

As an upgrade of the transportation line, the express freight train is more efficient in terms of transportation and can offer reliable arrival times. The cargo delivered by the train now covers Southeast Asian countries including Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia.

The goods delivered have also increased from more than 100 types to over 1,200, ranging from electronic devices to fruits, with the cross-border trade value exceeding 12 billion yuan (US$1.66 billion).

China has also remained the largest investor in Laos, with Chinese companies investing in 821 projects between 1989 and 2021, the Vice President of the Laos-China Cooperation Committee, Mr Xaysana Sitthiphone, reported.

Last year, investments by Chinese companies in 20 projects were worth one billion dollars.

Two-way trade between Laos and China in 2021 reached US$4.35 billion, rising 21.4 percent year-on-year, while imports from China were worth US$1.67 billion, up by 11.9 percent, he said.

Laos’s exports to China in 2021 were valued at US$2.68 billion, up by 28.2 percent year-on-year, Mr Xaysana added.

Businesses from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar are also using the Laos-China Railway to import and export goods to and from China.

China has been offering Laos a special trading arrangement, enabling Lao businesses to export their goods to one of the largest markets in the world.

The China-Laos Railway will not only benefit bilateral trade, but also other countries that want to export products to China or even Europe, as using the rail link can save both time and money.