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TEDI- Leader in Vietnam - Laos Transport Cooperation

Posted: Friday, November 10, 2017

Since the signing of the official diplomatic relations in 1962 and the Friendship and Cooperation Treaty in 1977, Vietnam has provided extensive support and cooperation in various fields for Lao PDR, especially transport, cross-border transport and human resources training. The Vietnam Business Forum has an interview with Mr Pham Huu Son, General Director of Transport Engineering Design Inc. (TEDI), on Vietnam - Laos transport cooperation. Le Sang reports.

Would you please briefly introduce cooperation results between TEDI and Lao PDR in recent years?
TEDI is entrusted with the tasks of advising, supporting and implementing transport projects in Laos. In 1986, in Vientiane, Transport Design Institute, the former name of TEDI, was one of the first units to cooperate with the Lao Transport Engineering Research Institute, present-day Lao Transport Engineering Consultant Company (LTEC). Over the past 30 years, TEDI has sent many expert delegations to assist Laos to survey, design and transfer technology through transport projects to enhance LTEC engineers’ capabilities. That good relationship is still being developed by LTEC and TEDI. Annually, the two sides still maintain regular visits to exchange experiences.

At present, TEDI is entrusted by Ministry of Transport to carry out key transport cooperation projects.

As for overall study, TEDI was assigned to establish a transport connection scheme, including highway connections and two-way commodity transportation between Vietnam and Laos. The scheme was highly appreciated by the Parties and Governments of both nations and converted into a memorandum of understanding on transport cooperation strategy for 2016 - 2025, with a vision to 2030, between the Governments of the two countries. TEDI conducted a study on Hanoi - Vientiane Highway project and reported it to the Ministry of Transport and the Governments of the two nations. The both sides basically agreed with the “Agreement on construction of Hanoi - Vientiane Highway”. The investment for construction of these strategic connections will enable Laos to utilise its advantage of lying on the central position in ASEAN and Vietnam's maritime advantage - a prerequisite for the establishment of high-speed roads connected with capital cities in the region and the east-west link between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific to create momentums for the socioeconomic development of the two countries.

As for specific projects, TEDI carries out and advises the Ministries of Transport and the Governments of both nations: Supporting designing and supervising the construction of Nam Thon Bridge. This is a very difficult project in the context of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the entire design file lost. TEDI-designed and supervised construction investment projects were used like National Highway 18B and National Highway 2E (Muong Khoa - Tay Trang section). The ongoing Tam Tay - Tha Lau is ready to be put into operation.

In the coming time, TEDI will provide technical supports for a traffic route from Phu-Thit-Phung in Luang-Prabang province to Na Son, Laos lying next to Dien Bien Dong district, Dien Bien province; upgrading National Road 18B, investment project to build two traffic routes in Xay-som-bun province will be accelerated.

Cheered by fine bilateral cooperation and unity of Vietnam and Laos in transport field, TEDI will strive to realise development cooperation strategies of the two countries to strengthen their traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation.

What do you think about the business investment environment in Laos today?
At present, the business communities are actively contributors to the two countries’ fine friendship, cooperation ties. Vietnam’s investment into Laos is on the rise. As of January 2017, 270 Vietnamese-led investment projects were present in 17 out of 18 provinces in Laos with a total capital of US$5.12 billion. In 2016, the two-way trade turnover exceeded US$800 million. Policy constraints have been identified and resolved by the Lao government. Thus, the business investment environment in Laos is becoming more attractive to Vietnamese enterprises as well as to other countries.

What is the prospect of Vietnam - Laos economic cooperation in the current period?
Vietnam and Laos have a rarely-seen special relationship, generously cultivated by Party and State leaders of the two countries over time. At present, the two sides are perfecting mechanisms and policies and effectively implementing strategic agreements and targets set with a long-term comprehensive vision to further develop the special relationship. Given a history of comprehensive friendship plus favourable conditions in both states, I believe that Vietnam - Laos economic cooperation will be increasingly developed, contributing to socioeconomic development of both nations.

Do you have any suggestions to the Government of Vietnam and the Government of Laos to boost bilateral investment cooperation of the two countries’ enterprises?
Based on TEDI's experience in cooperating and implementing projects in Laos, I hope that the two governments will have practical measures, mechanisms and policies to effectuate their cooperation agreements. In the near term, it is necessary to improve the investment environment in Laos by special preferential policies for Vietnam’s advantageous fields like agriculture, mining and hydropower; and reduce administrative procedures. The two governments will soon set up special mechanisms to facilitate import and export flows between the two countries and goods exported to other countries.

I suggest the two governments assign the Vietnam - Laos Cooperation Committee and the Laos - Vietnam Cooperation Committee to work together to review and make proposals for new changes. The transport sector needs to go one step ahead. The two countries should focus on developing infrastructure connectivity to uplift transport capacity, attract investors, strengthen local cultural exchanges near the border, develop tourism, promote socioeconomic development, and increase economic competitiveness of both nations.

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