Following is the text of a joint statement by the United States and Laos issued on July 13, 2010 in Washington, D.C.
In this 55th anniversary year of bilateral diplomatic relations, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Lao Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith met today for a cordial and productive discussion of common interests in Southeast Asia, and of growing areas of bilateral cooperation.
The United States and Laos continue their longtime cooperation in the search for Americans missing from the Indochina War, on clearance of unexploded ordnance remaining from the war, and on fighting drug addiction and illegal drug trafficking. More recently, the two countries have been working closely together on preventing the emergence of pandemic diseases, and continue to gradually expand military-to-military cooperation following the exchange of defense attachés. Secretary Clinton and Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith welcomed the signing of an “Air Transport Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic” that will facilitate greater trade and tourism exchanges. They discussed the opportunities to expand the role of the U.S. Agency for International Development in the Lao PDR.
Secretary Clinton and Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith both emphasized that increasing exchanges and cooperation between the United States of America and the Lao PDR are producing mutual benefits and a constructive relationship contributing to peace, stability and cooperation for development in the region and the world.
While expressing his sincere thanks for the warm welcome extended him and his delegation, Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith invited Secretary Clinton to pay an official visit to the Lao PDR at a convenient time.
U.S. Signs Open Skies Accord with Laos
The United States and Laos today at the State Department signed a comprehensive Open Skies agreement to expand and liberalize their bilateral civil aviation relationship. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs Jose W. Fernandez signed for the United States. Lao Ambassador to the United States Seng Soukhathivong signed for Laos. The Deputy Prime Minister of Laos, Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith, witnessed the signing.
The Open Skies agreement between the United States and Laos represents a market-oriented approach to aviation relations. The agreement will facilitate trade and tourism links with Laos and provide new commercial opportunities to airlines of the United States and Laos and the traveling public, while preserving our commitments to aviation safety and security.
The United States has previously reached Open Skies agreements with nearly 100 countries.
For more information about Open Skies, visit http://www.state.gov/e/eeb/rls/fs/2009/119760.htm.
Open Skies Agreement Highlights
Office of Aviation Negotiations, Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs
January 30, 2009
Open Skies agreements set liberal ground rules for international aviation markets and minimize government intervention. Provisions apply to passenger and cargo air transportation and encompass both scheduled and charter services. Key provisions include:
- Free Market Competition
No restrictions on international route rights; number of designated airlines; capacity; frequencies; or types of aircraft.
- Pricing Determined by Market Forces
A fare can be disallowed only if both governments concur — “double-disapproval pricing” — and only for certain, specified reasons intended to ensure competition.
- Doing Business Protections
o All carriers of both countries may establish sales offices in the other country, and convert earnings and remit them in hard currency promptly and without restrictions.
o Carriers are free to provide their own ground-handling services — “self handling” — or choose among competing providers. Airlines and cargo consolidators may arrange ground transport of air cargo and are guaranteed access to customs services.
o User charges are non-discriminatory and based on costs.
- Cooperative Marketing Arrangements
Airlines may enter into code-sharing or leasing arrangements with airlines of either country, or with those of third countries. An optional provision authorizes code-sharing between airlines and surface transportation companies.
- Provisions for Consultation and Arbitration
Model text includes procedures for resolving differences that arise under the agreement.
- Liberal Charter Arrangements
Carriers may choose to operate under the charter regulations of either country.
- Safety and Security
Each government agrees to observe high standards of aviation safety and security, and to render assistance to the other in certain circumstances.
- Optional 7th Freedom All-Cargo Rights
Provides authority for an airline of one country to operate all-cargo services between the other country and a third country, via flights that are not linked to its homeland.
July 13 (Bloomberg) — Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith met today with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the highest-level visit by a Laotian official to Washington since 1975.
The U.S. is interested in building a relationship with Laos to expand its engagement with Southeast Asia, State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters.
In a joint statement, the U.S. and Laos highlighted the signing of an air travel agreement that they said would boost trade and tourism. The countries also discussed ways to expand U.S. Agency for International Development work in Laos. During their “cordial and productive” encounter, Thongloun invited Clinton to make an official visit, the statement said.
Exports from Laos to the U.S. increased to $63.8 million in 2009 after a bilateral agreement between the two countries in 2005, according to the State Department’s website. This was preceded by a bill signed by President George W. Bush extending normal trade relations with Laos in December 2004.
The landlocked, communist-run nation is considering selling its first foreign-currency bonds to overseas investors by the end of the year to be less dependent on international aid, according to the Asian Development Bank. Laos, a battleground in the Vietnam War, has a population of 6.7 million and is one of the smallest economies in Southeast Asia.
Laos and the U.S. are continuing to work to seek Americans missing in the war and clear unexploded munitions, the countries said in their statement.
The countries said they are “gradually” expanding military to military cooperation as part of their widening ties.
–Editors: Edward DeMarco, Mark Silva
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