Source: Vientiane Times
The government will act speedily to remove difficulties hampering exports to China, including the tackling of barriers that have an economic and financial impact.
A government team led by the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Dr Khampheng Saysompheng, and acting on behalf of the central committee responsible for trade facilitation, joined central and provincial stakeholders during December 26-27 to resolve difficulties affecting exports to China via Boten International Checkpoint in Luang Namtha province.
This meeting reflected the importance attached by the government to facilitating trade and removing economic and financial difficulties in order to create an environment conducive to business operations. The officials also focused on finding solutions to problems affecting exports amid the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to spread in Laos.
The pandemic has led to Chinese authorities putting in place strict measures to monitor drivers and cargo bound for China. This has resulted in thousands of cargo vehicles on both sides of the border facing long waits.
The officials agreed to negotiate with China on opening other border checkpoints identified by business operators to address the congestion at Boten International Checkpoint.
These negotiations should include the central and provincial chambers of commerce and industry and the business sector of China to boost cooperation.
The negotiations should be directed by the relevant sectors, and the Laos-China cooperation Committee should urgently coordinate with the Chinese side, the officials decided.
The Chinese authorities closed Boten International Checkpoint on October 25 as part of strict measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 after the Coronavirus spread widely in Laos, the Governor of Luang Namtha province, Mr Khamlay Sipaseuth, told the meeting.
This affected the export of goods from Laos, and the Chinese authorities subsequently agreed to reopen the checkpoint for a test run on November 5.
During the test run, all truck drivers from the Lao side were required to fully comply with measures laid down by the Chinese Taskforce on Covid-19 Prevention and Control.
In the past, around 350 trucks entered the zone of the Boten checkpoint every day, but Chinese authorities limited the number to 150 trucks. Authorities in Luang Namtha temporarily banned cargo trucks bound for China from entering the province earlier this month as a large number of trucks were already waiting to cross the border.
Large quantities of agricultural products were lost during the long wait to enter China, which remains Laos’ largest export market.
Exports to Vietnam and Thailand have not been affected by similar issues.
The Boten border crossing is a major travel and trade route between Laos and China.