Source: Vientiane Times
Lao authorities will ask their Chinese counterparts to consider reopening more border crossings to allow trucks carrying goods to enter China as hundreds remain stranded at the Boten-Mohan crossing on the Laos-China border.
The move is part of measures to tackle the huge number of trucks loaded with goods that are unable to cross the border from Luang Namtha province into China.
Between 400-450 trucks arrive at Boten each day, heading for China. But officials are currently able to process only 200 trucks and authorise them to cross the border each day, authorities in charge told President Thongloun Sisoulith during his working visit to the northern province last month.
The president later met with Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh and his deputies to discuss ways to address the issue.
The meeting agreed that Lao authorities would ask China to consider reopening more border crossings that were closed because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The closures meant that Boten-Mohan is now the only point of entry and exit for transport vehicles between the two countries, which has caused massive congestion.
The Prime Minister’s Office recently issued a notice asking the relevant departments to put into practice the guidance given by the meeting.
Lao authorities were told to work with their Chinese counterparts to consider opening fast-track lanes for trucks at the Boten-Mohan and other border crossings, extend working hours, and streamline procedures to allow more vehicles to cross more quickly.
In addition, the authorities were instructed to hold talks with the Laos-China Railway Company to push for more freight transport through the railway.
To handle the potential increase in the transport of farm products through the railway, the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and other departments was asked to prepare personnel and equipment to carry out the inspection and declaration of farm products at railway stations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health and relevant sectors were assigned to work with their counterparts in neighbouring countries to study the possibility of setting up Covid quarantine and treatment centres at border crossings, to prevent a virus outbreak.
In addition, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport will ask Chinese authorities to consider allowing freight to be transported by river through Mekong upstream countries on a regular basis.
In light of this issue, a high-level Lao delegation expects to visit China, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs tasked to request China to accept the proposed visit to discuss cooperation, including measures to address the border crossing issue.
Other measures planned for Lao authorities to undertake include:
-Publicise farm product categories promoted for export to China to encourage commercial cultivation,
-Revise procedures and fee rates for tax declaration, goods inspection etc. to ensure transparency and uniform practices
-Define product categories and the required standards eligible for transport and export to China via the Laos-China railway to ensure transparent and swift services.
-Urgently build a freezer warehouse to store perishable goods at the border crossing or nearby
-Study the possibility of building dry ports at railway stations as planned to facilitate rail transport
-Negotiate with Chinese authorities to upgrade conventional border crossings to international checkpoints, -Ministries to report progress made to the Prime Minister by not later than March 15, 2022.