Laos looks to barter trade with Brunei

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (The Brunei Times) — The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is looking into setting up a barter trade agreement with Brunei Darussalam where both countries can exchange their locally produced products in accordance with the needs of the two countries.

When asked by The Brunei Times yesterday on what particular areas both countries can work on together, Lao Prime Minister, His Excellency Thongsing Thammavong, said as Brunei had vast potential in the oil and gas sector and as Laos was producing agricultural products, both could cooperate and exchange these products.

“Well in the area of enhancing investment cooperation, due to the fact that our two countries have vast potential to offer, Lao in particular is suitable for developing the agricultural sector, as well as some industries and the services sector, especially tourism. Brunei of course is well-known throughout the world for having a very industrialised technology. We would encourage Brunei to invest in agriculture in Laos,” the prime minister said.

Thammavong is in Brunei on a two-day official visit following an invitation extended to him by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

He said the main purpose of this visit was to enhance and strengthen the long lasting friendship and good cooperation between the two governments and peoples.

“Of course over the past several years, our two countries have enjoyed close ties and friendship, but mainly in the political area. This time, I have brought with me a large business delegation. This would provide them greater opportunities to discuss and exchange information with the business sector in Brunei, especially on ways and means to enhance cooperation in the areas of trade and investment,” said the prime minister.

Earlier in the afternoon, the prime minister had an audience with the monarch followed by a one-on-one meeting at the Istana Nurul Iman.

He shared that during the bilateral meeting, both sides agreed that they should continue to deepen their long lasting and traditional cooperation and friendship. “More importantly, we have agreed to create enabling conditions for the business and investment sectors to enhance closer ties,” he said.

Prior to the press conference, the prime minister delivered a keynote address at the Brunei-Laos Business Forum that was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Held at The Empire Hotel and Country Club, the forum was aimed at encouraging business exchanges and strengthening economic ties between the two countries through their respective Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

In his keynote, the prime minister said that Laos and Brunei had enjoyed strong bilateral relations and cooperation, within ASEAN, sub-regional and regional cooperation as well as in the international arena, in which the Lao PDR attached great importance to and had played an active part.

In the areas of trade and investment, he said, the Lao PDR has pursued a policy to enhance external relations and cooperation with all nations and has been granted preferential treatments from various countries, especially the recent official admission of the country as full member of the World TradeOrganisation on February 2, 2013.

In addition, the prime minister added Laos had signed bilateral agreements on investment promotion and protection with 27 countries across Europe, Asia, America and the Asia-Pacific region.

“The Lao PDR is a least developed and landlocked country that shares common borders with five countries that have experienced high economic growth rates,” said the prime minister, adding that the strategic geographical location offers vast potential for linking markets in the sub-region.

“Against this backdrop, combined with abundant natural resources and various business opportunities have made the Lao PDR an interesting investment destination for many countries,” he said.

In this connection, the prime minister said, the Lao Government had charted out important targets under its 7th five-year National Social and Economic Development plan ending 2015 aiming at maintaining a high, stable and sustained economic growth rate of not less than 8 per cent annually with special attention given to ensuring sustainable development, striking a balance between economic, social-cultural development and environmental protection.

“To achieve the said objectives, the Government of the Lao PDR has pursued an incentive policy for investment promotion and provided enabling conditions for foreign direct investment in the country,” he said.

Also present at the forum was Dato Paduka Hj Ali Apong, the Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Chairman of the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB).