Dry port development pushes goods transportation prices lower - transport minister

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The development of a dry port is a crucial part of efforts to minimise the cost of logistics that will enable the business sector in Laos to compete alongside regional and international competitors.

The recent Lao Business Forum in Vientiane, co-organised by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), opened the floor to the public and private sector to seek ways to boost the business environment in Laos collaboratively.

At the forum, representatives of the business sector asked the government to urgently address these barriers to help to facilitate trade and lower the fees for transportation.

In response to the questions raised by the business community, the Minister of Public Works and Transport Dr Bounchanh Sinthavong accepted that Laos had faced this issue for a long-time and the government has also tried its best to find proper solutions.

"We found out that the three major problems causing higher transport fees compared to other neighbouring countries were; substandard infrastructure, blockages of exits to the sea and domestic issues," he said.

He gave an example of the logistics' cost from Laos to Laem Chabang port of Thailand; it costs a total of US$3,420 per container, which is very pricey for firms engaged in import and export.

Currently, the government aims to develop the dry port and formally lodge a master plan along with Savan Logistics Limited at Savan-Seno Special Economic Zone, otherwise known as Savan Park.

"A decrease in logistics' cost is seen clearly from US$3,420 to US$1,460 per container or around 66 percent down from last year," he said.

Dr Bounchanh said that the Laos-China Rail Project would also boost the speed of import and export for goods to China as well as various European countries via the Chinese route.

He also told business people that the government is seeking cooperation with various countries of the Great Mekong Sub-region (GMS) to minimise and overcome multiple difficulties in logistics and to facilitate the easier trade of goods.

At the forum, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith advised that the cost of land and air transportation remains exceptionally high and it is always a priority of the government to seek solutions.

"As we all know, one of the main challenges of our country is that it's a land-locked nation - sandwiched between Thailand to the west and Vietnam to the east - making it harder to deal with import and export matters."  

However, the government will continue to seek appropriate solutions by assigning the concerned ministry to conduct further research as it can be helpful in finding the right answers and solutions and a boost for domestic businesses, the Prime Minister added.