Vice Minister, Lao Ministry of Public Works and Transport
Lao-Sino Railway Project Working Group Task Team Leader
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Lao Government and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, please allow me to begin by expressing my heartfelt appreciation to the Xinhua News Agency for inviting me to this very important and meaningful Forum. It is my great pleasure and privilege to have an opportunity to speak at this significant event to share our country’s experience with you.
I guess some of you may already know about Laos but some may still not, I therefore would like to introduce our country briefly. Lao PDR or Laos is categorized as a land-locked and least developed county located in the heart of mainland Southeast Asia. It is surrounded by five countries namely China to the North, Viet Nam to the East, Cambodia to the South, Thailand to the West and Myanmar to the Northwest. With the total population of approximately 6.7 million people, the country has the total land area of 236,800 km2, as a result the population density is about 26 persons per km2, which is relatively low compared to Asian Countries. The income per capita is 1,460 USD. The poverty headcount ratio is about 22% of the total population.
With the geographically potential located in the heart of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) and ASEAN region, we have set policies for facilitating our socio-economic development and contributing to the regional development and integration by transforming from the landlocked country into landlinked and becoming transit services. ASEAN connectivity has been set as the first priority for the regional and international integration.
Our government has always been treating the transport development as a spearhead for the national socio-economic development, we have been allocating huge amount of national budget including international assistances into the transport infrastructures development for promoting the movements of people and goods, boosting tourism and investment within our ASEAN community and other regions and the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On the road network development, Laos has expanded from 20,000 km in 1997 to 44,000 km in 2013 that can links with neighboring countries and region through 12 routes from north to south and from east to west. On air transport, there are 12 airports, four international with modern air traffic management system. On the railways, we only recently completed 3.5 km connecting with Thailand and many other railways under planning such as the 418 km Laos-China Railway project which is part of the regional Singapore – Kunming Rail Link. On the waterway transport though the Mekong River flows through 1865 km of the country from north to south, but it is only utilized for commercial transport at the northern part that Laos is the member of the Committee on Coordination of Commercial Navigation on the Lancang – Mekong River (JCCCN) together with China, Myanmar and Thailand.
For the soft infrastructure, Laos is the member of regional and subregional cooperation such as UNESCAP, ASEAN, GMS as well as the trilateral and bilateral transport agreements with neigboring countries. In addition, in order to facilitate transit transport as the transit service country, we recently revised law on land transport and law on land traffic and newly enacted the law on multimodal transport with in line with those of regional ones. One of the remarkable achievements is the Initial Implementation of the GMS Cross Border Transport Agreement applying Single Stop Inspection and Single Window Inspection with Viet Nam that expects to be model for the whole region.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As a results, we have achieved quite impressive progress in economic growth, poverty reduction and social development in 2013 as well as over the past three years of the implementation of the 7th National Social-Economic Development Plan and its endeavors to attain the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
"It will be appropriate to mention today that significant achievements of the Lao PDR in maintaining peace, safeguarding political stability, encouraging the rule of law, protecting and promoting fundamental rights of the people which constitute an indispensable foundation for social and economic success of every nation in the modern world.
Though we have been significantly progressing in the development of transport facilities on many modes including roads, waterways, airways and railways such as upgrading the ASEAN Highways crossing Laos, airport development and so on. Besides these achievements, we are facing many challenges, we have only limitted fund with rapid increase of demand for the sector. Moreover, the maintenance of existing infrastructures to insure user safety, meet durability and servicibility expectation, tackling natural disasters all these also require great demand of funding. In order to realize the implementation plan for the ASEAN Connectivity requires our joint efforts to address these challenges effectively. Currently, our government is preparing to initiate the investment promotion for developing and improving transport infrastructures by the form of PPP mechanism which considered as a best option. Thus, I would like to take this opportunity to invite investors from your countries to invest in Laos.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am concluding my remarks by wishing you all the very best in your deliberations and may I wish the Forum successful. Thank you for your kind attention.