Laos Seeking Sweeter Deal On Sugar Exports to China

Laos is seeking to significantly increase sugar exports to the Chinese market this year to 100,000 tonnes, up from 55,000 tonnes in 2018.

As part of efforts to increase bilateral trade and help sugar producers find foreign markets, the Lao government recently urged China to open up its market to more Lao-grown products.

Minister of Industry and Commerce and Chairman of the Laos-China Cooperation Commission, Mrs Khemmani Pholsena, last week told a visiting Chinese delegation to convey the request by the Lao side to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce for further consideration.

“In a bid to encourage Lao farmers to keep growing more sugar and support the fight against poverty, 100,000 tonnes of sugar is a huge amount of produce for Laos but only a small quantity for China,” she said.

The minister made the request for consideration through the visiting Chinese delegation last week, led by Vice Chairman of the People’s Republic of China National Development and Reform Commission, Mr Ning Jizhe.

Mrs. Khemmani is confident that the value of bilateral trade and investment between Laos and China will rise once several mega cooperation projects become operational, such as the Laos-China railway.

According to a recent report, China mainly imports wood, ore, sand, rubber and rubber products, copper and copper products and fertiliser from Laos.

The trade value of exported products to China in the first six months of last year stood at US$619 million compared to about US$1.27 billion in goods sold to Thailand, of which electricity earned the largest revenue.

Exports to China reached US$372.5 million in 2013, US$672.7 in 2014, US$1 billion in 2015, and US$1.13 billion in 2016.

The total trade volume between both countries reached US$3 billion kip in 2017, according to the Laos-China Cooperation Commission.

Additionally, sales of rice from Laos to China hit US$14.2 million in 2016, dropped to US$5.6 million in 2017, and sank to about US$5 million in 2018.

China is still the largest rice export market for Laos, and the second biggest trading partner of the country.

Earlier this year, the governments of the two nations launched the Visit Laos-China Year 2019 programme with an influx of Chinese tourists expected to generate income for the Lao service sector including tour operators, restaurants and hoteliers.

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