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Operators of the Thanaleng Dry Port and Vientiane Logistics Park and a visiting delegation from China’s Yunnan province on May 13 held talks aimed at improving rail logistics to improve cross-border trade between the two countries and beyond.

Member of the Standing Committee of the Yunnan Provincial Party Committee and Secretary of the Kunming Municipal Party Committee, Liu Hongjian, led the delegation on a tour of Laos’ integrated logistics centre, where the Laos-China and Laos-Thailand railways converge.

The railway, whose customs clearance point for freight is located at the dry port, has increasingly become an important trade gateway between China and Southeast Asia, thanks to its cost-effective services.

Welcoming the visit by the Chinese delegation, the Chairman of Vientiane Logistics Park Co., Ltd., Chanthone Sitthixay, said the dry port is a valuable supplement to the railway in order to maximise the benefits of rail transport.

“A key reason for building the dry port was to facilitate logistics connectivity between ASEAN and China,” said the Lao business tycoon.

Since opening for service in December 2021, the dry port has handled a growing number of containers. In 2022, the dry port handled 49,183 containers, which were shipped to countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, China and Russia via the China-Europe railway network.

The trade route has witnessed a surge in freight transport. Since the start of this year, the Laos-China railway had carried 1.15 million tonnes of cross-border goods as of March 19, a year-on-year increase of 33.7 percent.

To facilitate cargo movement, notably farm products, the dry port developer is working with the Chinese side to set up a Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) service centre at the dry port to speed up the certification process.

Once operational, the SPS service centre will significantly increase the trade in farm products – one of the key areas currently being promoted.

On Monday, the Lao government, with support from the Chinese government, launched a new e-commerce platform to bolster trade in Lao agricultural produce.

To untap the trade and investment potential delivered by logistics connectivity, the US$727 million Thanaleng Dry Port and Vientiane Logistics Park project is also setting up a logistics park to enable companies to operate more businesses such as cold chain warehouses and more.

The park also includes an export processing zone, a logistics park, a free trade zone, and a technology and halal hub.
The dry port is part of the  Lao Logistics Link project, which also includes the Vung Ang seaport in Vietnam’s central Ha Tinh province, a planned railway linking the seaport to Thanaleng Dry Port, and a planned dry port in central Khammuan province through which the railway will pass.

Mr Chanthone told the guests that the Lao Logistics Link project will add fuel to the government’s efforts to transform landlocked Laos into a land-link country.

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