Laos, Thailand discuss single visa, railway linkages

By Vientiane Times | Source: ANN
The introduction of a single tourist entry visa and railway linkages between Laos and Thailand were among the key items of discussion at the 18th Lao-Thai Joint Commission meeting held in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand, this week.

The two countries will hold talks over cross-border railway links and the introduction of a single tourist visa during a joint cabinet meeting in Chiang Mai next month, according to the Bangkok Post.

Dr Thongloun Sisoulith ( right ) and Mr Surapong Tovijakchaikul attend the 18th Lao-Thai Joint Commission meeting in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand, this week.

The two countries will also cooperate on the demarcation of 14 border areas and have agreed to set up a new permanent border pass, according to the National News Bureau of Thailand.

Laos and Thailand have installed 204 markers along the 676km of the two countries’ land border, equal to 93 per cent of their total shared land border.

If the river border is included, the shared border is about 1,835km long. So far, about 37 per cent of the total shared border has been demarcated.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sisoulith led the Lao delegation to the Joint Commission meeting, at which his Thai counterpart Surapong Tovijakchaikul was also present.

The meeting followed up on cooperative projects between the two countries in various fields. The major points agreed upon were border demarcation and the turning of the temporary border pass used at Phu Du in Utttaradit province into a permanent one.

The two countries have agreed to accelerate construction of the fourth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge, which will connect Bokeo province in Laos with Chiang Rai province in Thailand. The bridge is scheduled to open in September this year.

The meeting also touched on issues relating to a plan to build a fifth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge between Borikhamxay province and Bung Kan in Thailand.

In addition, the two sides agreed to promote mutual investment by holding trade fairs and business matching to build trade, investment and tourism between the two countries.

Thailand is Laos’ biggest trading partner. In 2012 the value of trade between the two countries reached US$4.4 billion, up 26.5 per cent compared to 2011, according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In 2012, Thailand was the third largest foreign investor in Laos with nine projects worth US$346 million. Leaders of the two countries agreed to encourage more Thai businesses to carry out operations in Laos in the near future.

The two sides also discussed tourism cooperation and the need to engage in more talks concerning tourism development and promotion. They also discussed cooperating more closely to curb the amphetamine trade, as part of efforts to make the Asean region a drug free zone by 2015.

During the meeting, Thongloun called on Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to further discuss the expansion of their cooperative relations.