South Korea pledges US$500 million for Lao development

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The government of South Korea (ROK) has offered US$500 million for Laos to finance development projects in the country in the coming years, a South Korean news agency reported last week.

The Yonhap News Agency reported on September 5 that Laos and the ROK had signed four memorandums of understanding (MOU), one of which concerned Seoul’s plan to offer US$500 million to Laos.

The financing will be made available through the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDFC) for the period 2020 to 2023, the South Korean news agency reported.

President Bounnhang Vorachit and ROK President Moon Jae-in last week  witnessed the signing of the four MOUs on ICT, trade, agriculture and economic cooperation between Lao and Korean officials at the Presidential Palace in Vientiane.

The signings took place after the two leaders had discussed a wide range of issues ranging from politics and diplomacy to regional and international security.

President Moon visited Laos from September 5 to 6 as part of his regional tour to implement his New Southern Policy, which aims to bring the ROK closer to South East Asian nations. Prior to his arrival in Laos, President Moon visited Thailand and Myanmar.

According to the Yonhap News Agency, while in Laos President Moon unveiled his vision and strategy to engage with the Mekong countries of Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

“The entire world is now paying attention to the development of the Mekong region,” President Moon said in a special statement while joining his Lao counterpart to plant trees at Chao Annouvong Park by the Mekong River in Vientiane.

The South Korean government provided financial support to Laos to build the Mekong embankment at this location.

“South Korea hopes to prosper together with the Mekong countries and expects the ‘miracle of the Han River’ to lead to the ‘miracle of the Mekong River’,” President Moon added.

According to him, the ROK can share with the Mekong countries its rich experience in the development of farm villages, adding that the country plans to share its know-how on manpower training and growth with other nations.

The country is also willing to engage in the Fourth Industrial Revolution by sharing technology with them, he added.

Yonyab said President Moon chose Laos as the venue to announce the vision of the South Korean government’s engagement with the Mekong countries at the end of his regional tour.

The reason for this is that Laos is traversed by the Mekong River, which makes it rich in water resources. The river flows for 1,835 kilometres through Laos from north to south, earning the country the nickname “battery of Southeast Asia”, the news agency reported

President Moon expressed the hope for additional discussions on the vision at the inaugural South Korea-Mekong Summit, which will involve Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, to be held in Busan on November 27.

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