Lao economists say the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative will benefit the Lao economy, local daily Vientiane Times reported Thursday.[Special coverage]
Lao President Bounnhang Vorachit will attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation taking place on May 14-15 in Beijing, the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release on Wednesday.
Lao economists and officials are optimistic that the Belt and Road Initiative will benefit the economy of Laos, which is a part of the Silk Road Economic Belt.
An independent local economist, Mana Southichack, is of the opinion that once connectivity under the initiative is completely in place, it will make landlocked Laos more attractive for investors as they can benefit from convenient transport at a lower cost.
In the context of Laos, he said: "Investors attach great importance to transport systems. It (transport cost) is a costly part of the export products manufactured in Laos for countries far away beyond its neighbors like China, Thailand and Vietnam."
"Even exporting to China is currently challenging," he said that once the Laos-China railway linking Vientiane to the Chinese border, which is now under construction, is operational, it will provide convenient transport at a lower cost.
"Convenient transport links will also boost tourist arrivals. I think Laos will benefit a lot from the initiative," Mana added.
In light of these foreseeable benefits, Vice Minister of Public Works and Transport Lattanamany Khounnyvong told Xinhua recently that Laos strongly supports the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.
Lattanamany said that the initiative has been producing tangible benefits for the country.
He spoke highly of the Laos-China railway, the construction of which is expected to be completed in 2021.
"Once completed, the railway will help to facilitate people-to-people exchanges, reduce travel time and costs ... the railway will also help to promote agricultural production in Laos, increase incomes, attract more foreign investment and provide more employment opportunities," said the deputy minister.
"The railway will not only be the major railway line in Laos, but also connect to China and ASEAN countries. This is in line with the development strategy and plan of Laos," he said.