Source: Vientiane Times
Xekong province will open its first international border crossing with Vietnam next month to ease the movement of goods and people between the two countries.
The province’s governor Mr Leklai Sivilay told Vientiane Times on Friday the Lao and Vietnamese governments had agreed to upgrade the existing Dakta-ok-Nam Giang border crossing between Xekong and Quang Nam provinces to international status.
“We have agreed with Vietnam on the date to officially upgrade the status of this border crossing, which is slated for March 24,” the governor said.
The upgrade was originally scheduled for the end of last year but was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Dakta-ok local border crossing is situated in Dakcheung district, about 120 km from the provincial capital of Xekong, according to Mr Leklai.
Travel to Dakcheung district is now easier after a new bridge was built across the Xekong River together with a paved road leading to the district.
All provinces – with the exception of Xekong – that share borders with Vietnam have international crossing points to the neighbouring country.
Mr Leklai said the upgrade of the border crossing in Xekong would shorten the distance between Thailand and Vietnam through southern Laos by more than 100 kilometres.
At present, many trucks carry goods through the Vangtao-Chong Mek international border crossing in Champassak province to the Attapeu border crossing with Vietnam.
However, travel between Thailand and Vietnam through Xekong will be shorter as the distance from Xekong to Danang province is just 230 km.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Saleumxay Kommasith visited Xekong province on February 5-6 to update officials about the complex changes occurring in the region and the world, especially in relation to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The minister also touched upon issues relating to border demarcation between Laos and its neighbours as well as the elevation of the Dakta-ok border crossing to international status.
Although the pandemic is widespread in the region, trade between Laos and Vietnam is continuing through the Dakta-ok-Nam Giang border crossing.
Laos mainly exports agricultural produce to Vietnam while importing construction equipment needed for hydropower development and other mega projects.
The upgrade of the border crossing will create more accessible links with Vietnam and Thailand and enable more Vietnamese investors and visitors to enter Laos when the pandemic has subsided.
The expected surge in trade and the movement of goods should encourage local people to grow more crops for export so they can improve their living standards.
One of the main challenges for Laos now is how to improve tourist sites and provide transit services to benefit more from regional connectivity.
As of January 2020, Laos had 26 international border crossings with its five neighbours – three with China, one with Myanmar, 11 with Thailand, eight with Vietnam, and one with Cambodia.