By Li Hongmei
Exclusive Interview with Khampanh Sengthongkham, Minister Commercial Counselor, Embassy of the Lao People's Democratic Republic
China and Laos are friendly neighbors linked with mountains and waters, and the people of the two countries have co-existed in peace and harmony since the ancient times. On April 25, 1961, China and Laos established diplomatic relations and have maintained neighborly and friendly relations ever since.
Over the decades, Sino-Laotian relations have seen comprehensive development and exchanges of visits between leaders of the two countries become increasingly frequent.
In recent years, and with the steady development of China-Laos relation, the bilateral; cooperation in various fields is growing wider and deeper, according to Khampanh Sengthongkham, Minister Commercial Counselor, Embassy of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, when he received an interview from China Economic Net on April 8, 2013.
"The annual trade volume between the two sides has been increasing on a year-on-year basis. In 2010, the trade volume of the two countries reached US$ 1.04 billion, up 46.37%. In 2011, the trade volume reached US$1.28 billion, 22.72% higher, and in 2012, the trade value amounted to US$1.728 billion, increased by 32.8%. Currently, China is the 3rd largest foreign investor in Laos," Mr. Khampanh said.
The two-way trade and investment between China and Laos will embrace new business opportunities since Laos'WTO accession last year, which would certainly promote the trade ties between China and Laos, and both sides could explore new models of economic and trade cooperation within the framework of the WTO, he said.
On top of that, to attract foreign investment, the Lao government has already enacted Investment Promotion Law to protect, encourage and provide favorable policies to foreign investors.
"Foreign and domestic investors are (treated) equal with no any discrimination according to the Investment Promotion Law, " added Khampanh.
Besides, the two countries has also enjoyed deepened mutual trust and enhanced security cooperation. And the new direct air services linking Beijing to Vientiane, which opened on March 31, 2013, will further facilitate the personnel exchanges between the two sides.
"The direct flight will boost tourism industry of both sides, and open a new era for the trade exchange between two capitals. The people-to-people communication from both sides will be increased," said Khampanh.
With the joint efforts, the Sino-Lao comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation, which was established in 2009, is expected to scale a new height in the days to come.