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Thai-lao Border Trade Soars


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Thai-Lao border trade soars 17 per cent

Published on February 9, 2009

Thai-Lao border trade in Nakhon Phanom generated over Bt5.4 billion in value in 2008, up Bt933 million or 17 per cent from the previous year, according to provincial commerce official Visarut Krabuansueb.

Of the total, Thai exports were valued at Bt4.1 billion, while imports from Laos were worth Bt1.27 billion.

Fuel exports accounted for Bt1 billion, followed by those of automobiles and auto parts (Bt635 million), construction materials (Bt637 million), steel (Bt467 million) and agricultural products (Bt250.5 million).

"Demand for construction materials rose due to more construction in Laos," Visarut said.

Prasit Wongmalasit, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries in Nakhon Phanom and secretary-general of the Thai-Lao Chamber of Commerce, said that investment in Laos had increased due to privileges, including the 8-15 years of income-tax exemption, low-rate land leases and zero import tariffs for machinery. He noted that the privileges had drawn a large number of investors to Laos.

Top of the list are those from Thailand, followed by Chinese and Vietnamese. Among Thai investors, Ch Karnchang is the biggest, through the investment in hydro-power plants. Most of them are operating in Vientiane and hilly areas. Laos plans to construct 148 dams across the country, and 13 have been completed. Prasit added that Charoen Pokphand Group was also a major investor, with interests in feed meal and poultry- and pig-farming. Mitr Phol Group has also invested over Bt3 billion to erect a sugar mill and sugar plantation, which can produce up to 200,000 tonnes per annum.

Some paper companies have subcontracted plantations in the country.

"In all, Thailand's investment in Laos has reached tens of billions. Investors are chiefly drawn to the country by low production costs and political stability, as well as the government's promise to uphold the market mechanism," Prasit said.

In addition, the Export Promotion Department will arrange Mekong Export Festival 2009 to boost trade between the two countries.

Rachane Potjanasuntorn, director-general of the department, said the festival would be held in provinces contiguous with Laos, including Udonthani, Ubon Ratchathani, Mukdahan and Chiang Rai.

The first fair will take place in Udonthani on March 6-15. It is expected about 300,000 visitors from the two countries will attend.

Rachane pointed that both goods and services from the two countries will be presented during the fair. Visitors will see not only innovative goods but also quality development of both products and services.

Some 440 booths of manufacturers and exporters from the two countries will display their products, 60 per cent manufacturers and exporters from Bangkok, 30 per cent local and Lao producers and the rest consumer goods, fashion, furniture, decorations, health products, electrical appliances and construction materials.

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