Source: Vientiane Times
The government is temporarily reopening some “local” and “customary” border crossings in a bid to revive the economy and minimise the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The move is part of government efforts to balance the imposition of measures to contain the virus with the easing of restrictions to enable businesses to import and export goods.
The lifting of certain restrictions would allow improved cross-border trade between four provinces in Laos and neighbouring countries, according to the Lao PDR Trade Portal.
The reopening of the four border crossings named by the government should help businesses lower their production costs and overcome the challenges they face while also rebuilding the country’s economy.
They are the Nongmar customary border crossing in Khammuan province’s Bualapha district, Ban Vang local border crossing in Vientiane province’s Meun district, Thasa-ath customary border crossing in Borikhamxay province’s Pakxan district, and the Panghay local border crossing in Luang Namtha province’s Sing district.
The Panghay border crossing will reopen from November 1 until June 30, 2021, to aid trade between Laos and China.
However, importers and exporters must comply with all the measures relevant to the transport of goods laid down by authorities in Laos and China, to prevent the spread of the virus.
The reopening of this border crossing will enable companies to export sugar to China. Lao authorities have allowed Chinese workers into Laos to aid in this process.
In Borikhamxay, the reopening of the Thasa-ath border crossing which was approved by the Prime Minister’s Office on October 14 will enable the import of materials and equipment needed for construction of the Nam Theun 1 hydropower plant. The crossing will be closed after the necessary equipment has entered Laos.
In Vientiane province, the reopening of the Ban Vang border crossing which was approved by the government earlier this month will enable the Phetthongkham mining company to export goods. However, the authorities responsible must closely regulate the process and plug any gaps or opportunities that could arise during the export process.
In Khammuan province, use of the Nongmar border crossing earlier this month will also enable the export of mined products but the authorities are required to oversee the export process as advised by the government.
The remaining traditional and local border crossings remain closed, except those permitted to open for the transport of goods.
Goods are mainly imported and exported through international border crossings which are equipped with the necessary facilities and personnel to screen and identify anyone carrying the Covid-19 virus.
To date, 24 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Laos with the most recent being a Lao national who returned to Laos from his studies in Russia and tested positive for Covid-19 on October 20.
According to the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, more than 40.9 million people worldwide have contracted Covid-19. More than 1.1 million people have died and at least 30.5 million have recovered.