Posts tagged ‘Laos’

January 3, 2015

China to build Thai rail link to Laos

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.joc.com/rail-intermodal/china-build-thai-rail-link-laos_20150101.html

HONG KONG — China has signed a memorandum of understanding with Thailand to build 542 miles of double-track railway from Nong Khai on the Laos border to the Thai industrialized eastern seaboard.

The MOU was signed on the sidelines of a two-day regional summit in Bangkok, and is seen as consolidating China’s influence in a country that has had strong ties with the U.S., but which have cooled since the military coup in May, according to a report by Reuters.

“China will be responsible for the construction and development of the rail network and Thailand will take part in preparing the groundwork for construction,” Thai Transport Minister Prajin Junthong told the agency.

China has provisionally agreed with Laos to build a railway from Kunming through Laos, with the aim of connecting with Thailand. China will also develop another, 82-mile rail line linking the central province of Saraburi to Bangkok, about 67 mile away. Construction would begin in 2016, said Air Marshal Prajin.

Earlier this month, Thailand’s military-stacked Legislature approved a preliminary agreement on the China deal, putting the value at $10.66 billion.

Mayasu Hosumi, president of the Japan External Trade Organisation in Thailand (JETRO), said the rail network was “indispensable for the enhancement of production networks” in the region.

The rail development will link Thailand’s container port of Laem Chabang with Laos and revive the gateway port’s single rail transfer project that aims to ease the flow of containers to and from the terminals. It is part of Laem Shebang’s phase three development that was put on hold by the military coup.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attended the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) summit in Bangkok alongside prime ministers and presidents from Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand. Li is the most high-profile foreign leader to visit Thailand since the coup, signalling, Thailand says, its return to normal following months of political unrest, said Reuters.

The army seized power in May to end months of political turmoil, but the economy of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy has struggled in the face of weak exports and sluggish domestic demand. The economy grew just 0.2 percent in the first nine months of the year, although the central bank said its GDP has expanded in the last quarter.

Factory output in November declined 3.5 percent year-over-year, down for a 20th straight month.

Exports, which are equal to more than 60 percent of the economy, picked up in September and October but slipped in November. The central bank forecast exports to contract 0.5 percent this year and rise only 1 percent in 2015.

Contact Greg Knowler at gknowler@joc.com and follow him on Twitter: @greg_knowler.

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 Ecns.cn

China, Thailand eye closer agriculture, railway cooperation

2014-12-20 09:21 Xinhua Web Editor: Qian Ruisha

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.ecns.cn/2014/12-20/147437.shtml

Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here Friday that China and Thailand have agreed to kickstart mutually beneficial cooperation on agro-product trade and railway.

China eyes deeper cooperation with Thailand and hopes for a more balanced bilateral trade and economic relationship, Li told reporters after meeting with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.[Special coverage]

The two governments signed a memorandum of understanding on farm produce trade cooperation. China, Li said, has agreed to double its purchase on the basis of the volume the two sides agreed upon last year.

China expects the new initiative to empower both China and Thailand to resist risks of international market fluctuations and help improve the livelihood of Thai farmers, he said.

“Only China has such a big market and a huge purchasing power which could consume the big agricultural production of rice, rubber and others of Thailand,” said Li.

In addition, the two governments also inked a memorandum of understanding on railway cooperation.

Li said the Chinese and Thai governments have agreed to build Thailand’s first standard-gauge railway lines with a total length of more than 800 km, which has been approved by the National Legislative Assembly of Thailand.

The agreement allows China to invest in two dual-track rail lines in Thailand that will span 734 km and 133 km respectively and connect northeast Thailand’s Nong Khai province, Bangkok and eastern Rayong province.

The project is estimated to cost some 10.6 billion U.S. dollars.

“This is the expansion, extension and further confirmation of the previous agreement that the Chinese and Thai governments reached last year,” said Li.

The Chinese premier said he hopes that the two sides will speed up preparation for the railway project and lay a solid basis for the beginning of construction at an early date.

The new railway will also benefit neighboring countries if being extended to other places of the region, Li said.

Chinese standards, equipment and manufacturing capacity will all be used in building the Thai railway, which helps China export its manufacturing capacity to the rest of the world, Li said.

For his part, Prayut said Thailand and China are friends sharing weal and woe, and his country highly values its relations with China.

Bilateral cooperation on railway and farm produce trade is of vital significance to Thailand, and is conducive to regional inter-connectivity and development, said Prayut, adding that Thailand will cooperate closely with the Chinese side to facilitate the implementation of relevant cooperation agreements.

Thailand, he said, will take the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties next year as an opportunity to elevate its relationship with China to a new height.

Li is here to attend the fifth summit of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation.

The Chinese premier said he looks forward to having an extensive exchange of views with all parties on deepening regional trade and economic cooperation, enhancing inter-connectivity and promoting innovation in industrial cooperation.

Hailing China’s “crucial” role in the GMS, Prayut said Thailand is willing to join hands with China and other parties of the GMS mechanism for more fruitful results.

The GMS Economic Cooperation Program, which was started in 1992 by six countries along the Mekong River — Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, aims to pool their efforts for improving infrastructure, promoting trade and investment and stimulating economic growth.

On a broader scale, Li said, the GMS cooperation will further enrich China’s partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

China, he added, stands ready to cultivate stable, peaceful and friendly relations with its ASEAN neighbors.

September 13, 2014

Women of Laos Clear Bomb Shells From the Vietnam War

telesur

Women of Laos Clear Bomb Shells From the Vietnam War

Published 12 September 2014

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Women-of-Laos-Clear-Bomb-Shells-From-the-Vietnam-War-20140912-0063.html

A Lao woman uproots rice seedlings in a paddy field. (Photo: Reuters)

A Lao woman uproots rice seedlings in a paddy field. (Photo: Reuters)

Women in Laos are now employed as bomb shell cleares. The job pays more than most, and requires one to work in highly unsafe conditions.

Women risk their lives to clear bomb shells in Laos and make up 40 percent of the bomb clearance teams in Xieng Khouang province.

The bomb shells they search for were dropped buy the U.S. during the Vietnam War. The U.S. had dropped 260 million cluster bombs on Laos. At the time the U.S. dropped 260 million bombs which gave the distinction of being the most heavily bombed country in the world.

The bombs targeted Ho Chi Mihn trail, which was the supply route for communist forces. Laos, however was not officially involved in the war, but because it was the neighbor of Vietnam its people were killed in the process.

Phou Vongh is part of a female team whose mission is to find and destroy unexploded bombs. This job is very dangerous but Phou Vong says she needs the work to support her family. To collect bomb shells she ears $250 a month, more than the average wage in Laos.

Up to 20,000 people have been hurt by cluster bombs in Laos since the bombing stopped. Many have lost their hands and sight because of cluster bombs exploding.

“In Laos culture, particularly in the more remote communities where accidents tend to happen, it is sometimes considered bad luck and then that person is shunned a little bit by his or her family and by their village and community as well. So that is quite a profound impact on a person,” said Colette McInerney, an Australian aid worker.

In spite of 20 years of bomb hunting in Laos, a little more than one percent of the land has been cleared.

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August 29, 2014

VN to negotiate with Laos, Cambodia on transit fees for new air route

VN to negotiate with Laos, Cambodia on transit fees for new air route

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/business/110731/vn-to-negotiate-with-laos–cambodia-on-transit-fees-for-new-air-route.html

VietNamNet Bridge – Airlines are taking a wait and see attitude about the proposed air route between Hanoi and HCM City that will fly over Cambodia and Laos airspace, cutting flight time compared to the current route.

Experts have said that this will be the most economical air route to follow

 

Related:

Bouncing down: The back roads of history (The Ho Chi Minh Trail)

air route, golden route, laos, cambodia

The agreements reached between the Vietnamese Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang and Lao and Cambodian counterparts have laid a foundation for the deployment of the new air route.

The  route, which is more direct path between the two cities, is expected to cut down expenses and save time. Currently airlines have to fly across the sea, which increases the amount of fuel and flight time.

However, air carriers are still hesitant to develop flights on the air route because they still cannot calculate the total expenses of every flight. The problem is that while airlines can save money on air petrol, they may have to pay higher fees when flying over Lao and Cambodian airspace.

With the current air route, airplanes fly within Vietnamese territory, while airlines have to pay a guide fee of VND3.5-4 million for every flight to the Vietnam Flight Control Corporation.

If they fly across Laos and Cambodia with a Boeing 777, they would have to pay $836 for every flight, or VND17.7 million. The fee would be VND13 million, if the plane used was an Airbus A320.

As such, the flight management cost for every two-way trip with A320, A321 and B777/330 would be $1,244, $1,274 and $1,672, respectively.

While airlines can see that the flight management cost would increase with the new air route, they still are not sure how much fuel they could save.

“To date, no one can say for sure how long the new air route will be,” an expert said.

“In reality, there might be zones that airplanes cannot go through and they have to take a roundabout. Sometimes airplanes have to fly tens of kilometers more to enter the right passage for landing, which makes the real distance longer than initially estimated,” he explained.

The air route which has been used so far has a total length of 1,274 kilometers. It takes one hour and 42 minutes and 4.7 tons of fuel to fly from Hanoi to HCM City with Airbus A320, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV).

Meanwhile, the “golden air route” drawn on paper by Tran Dinh Ba, an engineer from the Vietnam Economics Association, has the total length of 1,140 kilometers.

The national flag air carrier Vietnam Airlines, after making calculations, has proposed that CAAV negotiate with Lao and Cambodian agencies to reduce transit fees in Laos and Cambodia by 50 percent for the Hanoi-Phu Quoc Island and Hanoi-HCM City flights.

Meanwhile, sources said that the 50 percent fee reduction would ensure profits for airlines, while in the worst case, the 35 percent fee reduction would be “acceptable”.

CAAV’s head Lai Xuan Thanh said that if the fee reduction were accepted, this would be a solution to benefit both sides.

The fee reductions would encourage more air carriers to fly across Laos and Cambodia, which would allow them to earn more money.

VNE/VNN

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August 28, 2014

Bouncing down: The back roads of history (The Ho Chi Minh Trail)

Bouncing down: The back roads of history

Posted On Aug 25, 2014
Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://theadvisorcambodia.com/2014/08/bouncing-back-roads-history/

Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent rides the Ho Chi Minh Trail on a 1989 pink Honda cub

The Ho Chi Minh Trail, for those of you who’ve forgotten, was a transport network running from North Vietnam to South Vietnam, via Laos and Cambodia. Originally made up of primitive footpaths used for local trade, by the time of the Vietnam War the Trail was used to supply weapons, fuel and men in vast quantities to fight the Americans. According to the US government, the Trail was “one of the great achievements of military engineering of the 20th century”.

It also caused a great deal of trouble for both Laos and Cambodia: Laos was hit by an average of one B-52 bomb load every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, between 1964 and 1973. US fighters dropped more bombs on Laos than were dropped by all sides during the whole of the Second World War. And in Cambodia, American bombing provided a huge impetus for the rise of the Khmer Rouge.
The scale of the Trail was breathtaking. Covering more than 2,000 kilometres, from Sihanoukville in the south and Hanoi in the north, through thick jungle and over the 2,500-metre Truong Son mountain range in Laos, much of it was hidden from the bombers by tied-together tree canopies and trellises. The Americans used increasingly sophisticated weaponry to try to disrupt the Trail, including dousing it with Agent Orange, but all to no avail.

Agent Orange, a viciously unpleasant herbicide and defoliant, was used to strip the ground of plant cover, so the North Vietnamese would have nowhere to hide. According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4.8 million people were exposed to the chemical, leaving 400,000 dead and 500,000 children born with birth defects. And reports suggest that at the end of the war, 80 million bombs had fallen on the three countries but not exploded, leaving an appalling and deadly legacy.

So, all in all, the Trail was a hugely important hinge for modern Southeast Asian history. It has been traversed before by modern travel writers, on foot and on motorbike: a guy called Chris Hunt rode the length of the Trail on a Russian-made Minsk 125cc in 1995. To top that, British-born Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent decided to make the journey on a bubblegum-pink 1989 Honda C-90 stepthru moped, because “doing it on a proper dirt bike seemed too easy”. She had to have the engine rebuilt four times during the trip, so she clearly found the difficulties she was looking for.

Pink vehicles seem to be something of a motif for Bolingbroke-Kent; previously she had driven a pink tuk tuk from Bangkok to Brighton. On the Trail, at a stately 20mph, she fords rivers, climbs mountains and braves the heat and dust and loneliness and potential tiger attacks, staying in grubby guesthouses, swatting insects and drinking warm Pepsi. If her writing is sometimes a little flat, her knowledge of the history of the Trail, as well as her views on unexploded ordnance and the effects now of the logging and deforestation along the way, are invaluable.
As economic progress turns the Ho Chi Minh Trail into well-paved routes for shipping wood abroad for garden furniture, the Trail itself is disappearing; this is a decent book on a fascinating subject.

August 24, 2014

Laos-located Don Sahong hydropower project impacts discussed

Laos-located Don Sahong hydropower project impacts discussed

 

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/environment/110350/laos-located-don-sahong-hydropower-project-impacts-discussed.html

VietNamNet BridgeHydropower projects on the Mekong River, including the Don Sahong in Laos, will pose a threat to the balance of water, fish, and alluvium resources, while harming the ecosystem in the Mekong Delta region, said an expert on climate change.

Prof. Doc. Le Anh Tuan from the Research Institute for Climate Change at Can Tho University, pointed out that Don Sahong, the second hydropower project to be developed on a section of the Mekong River running though Laos, could lead to an extinction of catfish and other migrant fish species in the river.

It would also remarkably reduce the number of endemic fish in downstream areas, Tuan said at a conference held on August 21 in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho to prepare ideas to be contributed to the proposed Don Sahong hydropower project on the mainstream of the Mekong River.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Thanh Hai, office manager of the Steering Committee for Southwestern Region, said if all 12 hydropower projects are developed upstream, 55 percent of the Mekong River will become large reservoirs. Meanwhile, downstream areas, especially the Mekong Delta region, would suffer from environmental risks, he said.

At the same time, climate change and sea level rise would lead to salinity intrusion in most of the farming areas in the region, affecting the livelihood of about 30 million residents, he said.

Nguyen Huu Thien, an independent specialist, said the whole region would be affected by decisions on hydropower development in the Mekong River – one of the greatest rivers in the world possessing a rich resource that feeds millions of people.

He emphasised that the decisions must base on thorough, quality researches with consultations from governments and communities affected.

During the event, scientists updated the development process of hydropower projects on the Mekong River mainstream, assessment of environment impact of Don Sahong dam, and consultation process for Xayabury hydropower project.

Participants discussed ways to organise the consultations on Don Sahong project and how Mekong Delta localities engage in the process in a most effective manner.

The Mekong River is the world’s 12th longest river. It runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

VNA/VNN

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