Laos Update: April 29, 2020

Laos Update | April 29, 2020
Authors: Hai Pham, Natalie Tantisirirat, Jacob Corfman
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Laos’ Lockdown Order and Economic Measures Amid COVID-19 

On March 29, the Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, Chalern Yapaoher, held a press conference conveying Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith’s orders concerning the government’s lockdown of Lao PDR in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdown was initially issued for March 30 through April 19, but has been extended until May 3. 

Key provisions in the order include:

  • All people cannot not leave their homes unless it is to buy essential goods, visit hospitals, or to engage in various government authorized tasks.
  • All schools and tertiary centers of education are closed
  • Travel to other provinces and areas where confirmed COVID-19 cases exist is forbidden, unless it is for the purpose of visiting a hospital or transport commercial goods. Health checkpoints will be set up in order mediate travel while all passenger transportation services are temporarily suspended. 
  • International and inter-provincial borders must remain closed to all people, the only exception to this are transport vehicles with authorization to transport commercial goods. 
  • Businesses are to remain closed. Large manufacturing plants are to be closed excluding those which produce consumable items, medicine, and medical equipment.  
  • Businesses which are permitted to remain open include financial institutions, healthcare facilities, telecommunication providers, utility companies, post offices, waste management services, fuel stations, grocery stores, convenience stores, and restaurants and café.

As of April 29, Laos has reported that the total number of COVID-19 cases remains at 19, and there have been no new cases in over two weeks. According to the Lao National Taskforce for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, the national lockdown could be lifted on May 3 if there continues to be no new cases of COVID-19. 

Economic Responses to COVID-19

The Government of Laos has also taken various economic measures to counteract the negative effects of the virus on the country’s economy. Some of the measures include:

  • Reducing and deferring the payment of customs duty and taxes to regulate goods prices and address labor problems from April 30 through June 30.
  • Personal income taxes will be deferred from April 30 through June 30 for individuals who make less than 5 million kip. 
  • Deferring business tax for those who earn an annual income of 50 million to 400 million kip from April 30 to June 30. 
  • Tax exemptions on goods associated with COVID-19 prevention and protection. 
  • The interest rate will be reduced from 4 to 3 per cent, while the compulsory deposit ratio of kip and foreign currencies will be adjusted to boost the economy. 
  • Set prices for face masks; adequate medical equipment will also be ordered to mitigate the outbreak.

Commercial banks will be encouraged to extend the time required to pay back loans in both principle and interest. Interest rates and fees will be lowered, and banks will be encouraged to provide new loans to debtors and affected businesses. Several countries including China, Vietnam, Japan, and the United States have committed to delivering extra medical supplies to the country, as well as provide economic aid.

Laos has also received international assistance to combat the COVID-19 crisis. The U.S. Government provided approximately USD$2 million in health assistance to the Lao Government. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund has provided USD$ 18 million in emergency funds to Laos. Vietnamese joint stock company Hoang Anh Gia Lai has donated USD$100,000 to the Lao government for the purchase of medical supplies. 

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Vietnam suspends residents' border crossing from and to Laos, Cambodia over COVID-1
China Helps Laos With Medical Equipment as Coronavirus Wave Begins

National Affairs
Laos imposesnationwide travel restrictions
Laos launches official website on Covid-19 situation
Lao Government To Provide Tax Breaks, Reduced Rates Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
Coronavirus Cases Double Overnight as Laos Braces For Potential Epidemic
Laos Shutters Small Checkpoints on Borders With Vietnam, Cambodia, Citing Coronavirus Spread

ASEAN
Response Fund to be created by Asean to cushion COVID-19’s impact in the region
Collective efforts needed for rebound in Asean’s growth, says AMRO

COVID-19
Govt discusses post-lockdown measures
Laos reports no new case of Covid-19, one more recovery
Laos Lockdown to be Lifted if No New Covid Cases Confirmed
Lao Front, Phongsavanh Foundation assist Savannakhet Provincial Hospital to fight Covid-19
Local authorities urged to enforce PM’s Order on lockdown
Authorities urge public not to misuse COVID-19 hotlines
World Bank Approves Emergency Financing for Covid-19 Response

Customs
Govt postpones payment of customs duty, taxes
COVID-19: new entry-exit regulations between Vietnam and Laos

Food & Agriculture
Govt pledges food security during outbreak fears
EU amplifies food and nutrition security in Khammuan
Lao agro firms raise challenges

Health & Life Sciences
Lao health system continues to offer immunization services despite COVID-19 pandemic
National leadership and harmonised joint efforts for psychosocial support
WHO Organizes Training Session for Lao Medical Professionals
International medical supply donations assist Covid-19 prevention
Help curb dengue spread, health sector asks public
Covid-19: private hospitals and clinics ordered to close
China-Laos satellite joint venture joins fight against Covid-19
Laos To Enter Lockdown Starting March 30
Korean agency grants US$1.8 m to address Attapeu children’s well-being
U.S. Announces Additional US$ 2 Million to Support COVID-19 Response in Lao PDR
Lao PDR: New Financing to Improve Access to Health and Nutrition Services
Vietnam assists Laos to fight Covid-19 with medical supplies

ICT
Viettel Rolls Out Nationwide 5G-ready Timing Solution with ADVA

Infrastructure
Chinese engineering firm fully resumes construction of China-Laos railway
Last Mekong River bridge completed on China-Laos Railway
Coronavirus Delays Construction on Lao-China Railway
233 infrastructure development projects to be implemented in Laos in 2020
Ministry Orders Temporary Suspension of Mining Activities, Hydropower Construction
Huayxai airport expansion is over 50 percent complete
Construction of China-Laos railway power supply project starts

Thailand
Thai- Lao border closed in Phayao

Travel & Tourism
Prime Minister Thongloun Advises Preparing Tourism Sector
Hotel and Restaurant Owners Discuss Concerns with DPM
Laos celebrates new year under Covid-19 cloud - UCA News
Vietnam helps Laos prepare for UNESCO recognition of national reserve
Luang Prabang tourist sites temporarily shut down
2 China-Laos Railway bridges complete closure over Mekong River

Vietnam
Extra efforts made to sign RCEP in Vietnam in late 2020
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Vietnam suspends residents' border crossing from and to Laos, Cambodia over COVID-1 KPL 6th Apr 2020
Vietnam has decided to suspend cross-border activities of individuals at main and secondary border gates, and trails in border areas sharing with Cambodia and Laos from Apr 1 as part of measures to effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19.

China Helps Laos With Medical Equipment as Coronavirus Wave Begins Radio Free Asia 31st Mar 2020
China on Tuesday donated truckloads of medical supplies to Laos, where hospitals struggled with shortages of gear, while Vietnam imposed social distancing polices and moved to relax restrictions on rice exports it had earlier made to ensure food security during COVID-19 the crisis.

National Affairs

Laos imposesnationwide travel restrictions The Star Online 7th Apr 2020
DISTRICTS and villages nationwide are imposing travel restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among communities following the detection of 12 infections in the country. Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith issued an executive order last week to intensify measures to prevent and control the spread of the coronavirus. According to this order, people from all walks of life, including expatriates in Laos, are not allowed to go out of their homes or other accommodation for non-essential purposes from now till April 19.

Laos launches official website on Covid-19 situation Vientiane Times 7th Apr 2020
The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications in cooperation with a Lao ICT company recently launched an official website www.covid19.gov.la so the public can access factual information during the country’s Covid-19 crisis. The site is an information source to distribute the government’s orders, announcements, and measures to control the coronavirus pandemic. The website contains news reports related to Covid-19 circumstances in Laos as well as methods to prevent members of the public from getting infecting and which symptoms should necessitate a visit to the doctor to check for the virus. Aside from seeking knowledge on the coronavirus, the public can ask questions via the website or call the direct 166 hotline number if you have flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Lao Government To Provide Tax Breaks, Reduced Rates Amid Coronavirus Outbreak Laotian Times 3rd Apr 2020
The Lao government is to reduce and defer the payment of tax, customs, and other administrative fees during the coronavirus outbreak. Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Sonexay Siphandone stated on Thursday that the government was taking such measures to mitigate economic effects due to the virus outbreak.

Coronavirus Cases Double Overnight as Laos Braces For Potential Epidemic Radio Free Asia 26th Mar 2020
People wait at the immigration post by the second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge in Mukdahan, as the border crossing was being closed due to concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, March 23, 2020. The number of cases of coronavirus infection in Laos have doubled overnight, an official with the country’s Ministry of Health said Thursday, bringing the total to six, as the impoverished Southeast Asian nation braced itself for a potential epidemic within its borders.

Laos Shutters Small Checkpoints on Borders With Vietnam, Cambodia, Citing Coronavirus Spread Radio Free Asia 16th Mar 2020
Laos is shuttering small checkpoints on its borders with Vietnam and Cambodia as part of a bid to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus into the country, where authorities have yet to announce a positive case of the disease caused by the virus (COVID-19). 10 of the northeastern province’s 14 checkpoints along its border with Vietnam will close down, citing a lack of resources to screen entrants for symptoms of infection. Only four ‘international’ border checkpoints remain open. In southern Laos’ Attapeu province, authorities ordered the closure of eight smaller checkpoints that border Vietnam and Cambodia, which have reported at least 60 and 13 cases, respectively.

ASEAN

Response Fund to be created by Asean to cushion COVID-19’s impact in the region Khmer Times 10th Apr 2020
In the 25th ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting via video conference Thursday, ASEAN foreign ministers agreed on the establishment of a response to help all member states alleviate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. The objectives behind the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, according to a press release from Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, is to mobilise financial resources to address the shortage in medical supplies and to support the research and development of COVID-19. The fund also aims to prepare the member state for responding to future emergencies.

Collective efforts needed for rebound in Asean’s growth, says AMRO The Edge Singapore 8th Apr 2020
SINGAPORE (Apr 8): The Asean + 3 Macroeconomic Review Office (AMRO) has slashed its 2020 growth forecast for Asean + 3 nations to 2%, from its previous prediction of 4.9%. The macroeconomic watchdog which monitors Asean, Japan, China and Korea says the upgrade follows the uncertainty from the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it expects growth in the region to have a strong rebound to 5.5% in 2021 once the health and economic crises abate. Meanwhile, Asean economies are expected to weaken sharply to grow at an average of 1.1% before recovering to 5.2% in 2021. The data was unveiled by AMRO’s chief economist Khor Hoe Ee in an outlook briefing on Tuesday. Touching on how the data was arrived at, Khor said that preparations for this outlook forecast was “almost impossible”, despite this being the watchdog’s fourth iteration.

COVID-19

Govt discusses post-lockdown measures Vientiane Times 29th Apr 2020
The government looks set to keep some strict measures in place as part of its bold policy to control the spread of COVID-19, following a high-level meeting in Vientiane. According to a government media release, the Prime Minister-Deputy Prime Minister Meeting on April 28 agreed in principle that some strict measures under the PM Order No. 06 would remain active after its expiration. The government enacted and extended the PM order until May 3, which demands people not leave their homes except for essential reasons as part of efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. During the meeting, the participants, including members of the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, adopted the principle that some strict measures of the PM order would remain active to ensure the country can control the spread of the coronavirus. This includes continued suspension of public and business activities which pose a high risk of spreading the virus. Apart from debating the post PM No. 06 order measures, the meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, discussed details of the economic assistance package for individuals and businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic. The proposed measures include aid for labourers who have lost their jobs due to the out-break, a reduction in water and electricity tariffs, and assistance to distribute goods across the country and exports to international markets. Support for agricultural development, aid for the tourism industry, and plans to address public debt and SME promotion were also discussed at the meeting.

Laos reports no new case of Covid-19, one more recovery The Star Online 29th Apr 2020
Laos reported no new Covid-19 infected case on Wednesday, and one more patient has recovered. The total number of Covid-19 case in Laos remained at 19 and the last patient in Luang Prabang province is returning home after twice testing negative for the virus, Lao Deputy Minister of Health Phouthone Meaungpak told a press conference in Vientiane. As of Wednesday, Laos tested 1,917 suspected cases with 19 cases tested positive, and eight patients have recovered, including five cases in Lao capital Vientiane and three cases in Luang Prabang province. Laos detected its first two Covid-19 confirmed cases on March 24. - Xinhua

Laos Lockdown to be Lifted if No New Covid Cases Confirmed Laotian Times 28th Apr 2020
Lockdown in Laos could be lifted on 3 May if no new cases of Covid-19 are confirmed, and the situation in neighboring countries remains stable, according to the national taskforce. The National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control met yesterday to discuss the lifting of lockdown restrictions after the country has not had a confirmed case of the coronavirus in 15 days. The meeting was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr. Somdy Duangdy. The taskforce suggested that organizations be allowed to reopen their offices, ensuring civil servants can work as normal, while offices with the capacity to continue working from home may do so.

Lao Front, Phongsavanh Foundation assist Savannakhet Provincial Hospital to fight Covid-19 Vientiane Times 25th Apr 2020
Lao Front for National Development (LFND) and the Phongsavanh Foundation have donated medical supplies and consumer products worth about 51.6 million kip to Savannakhet Provincial Hospital to help in the fight against Covid-19. The goods were handed over by the LFND’s representative, Mr Sinxay Vonglakhone, who is also the organisation's Vice Director in Savannakhet, and the Phongsavanh Foundation Administration Department's Director, Mr Fongsamouth Saychandy, and their delegations to a representative of the Savannakhet Provincial Hospital, Dr Phouvilay Keomongkhoun, during a ceremony held on Wednesday.

Local authorities urged to enforce PM’s Order on lockdown Vientiane Times 21st Apr 2020
Local authorities must ensure that Prime Minister’s Order No. 6, aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 by putting a lockdown in place, is enforced, health officials say. Director General of the Department of Communicable Disease Control under the Ministry of Health, Dr Rattanaxay Phetsouvanh, stressed this point during the latest daily media briefing on Covid-19, saying everyone should cooperate with the ruling and comply with the Order to prevent the spread of the virus. His message comes after the government extended the lockdown for 14 days until May 3, including the closure of all international and local border crossings to individuals.

Authorities urge public not to misuse COVID-19 hotlines Vientiane Times 21st Apr 2020
Laos’ efforts against the coronavirus are being hampered by too many people tying up national information hotlines to pass on fake news to health authorities, according to a leading official. This was the message from Deputy Head of the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, Associate Prof. Dr Phouthone Muongpak at a press conference last week. As of Friday, over 4,000 calls had been made to the direct 166 or 165 hotlines, but only 632 callers asked questions related to COVID-19.

World Bank Approves Emergency Financing for Covid-19 Response Laotian Times 8th Apr 2020
The World Bank’s Regional Vice-Presidency of the East Asia and Pacific Region yesterday approved US 18 million for Lao PDR to help the country respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lao PDR COVID-19 Response Project supports preparedness and emergency response activities including infection prevention and control, case detection and contact tracing, case management and risk communication. It also supports the upgrade of Lao PDR’s surveillance capacity and the skills of health care workers. The project has been prepared under the global framework of the World Bank’s Fast Track COVID-19 Facility, which is designed to respond rapidly to short-term needs and help countries strengthen health systems for emergency response in the long run.

Customs

Govt postpones payment of customs duty, taxes Vientiane Times 6th Apr 2020
The government will reduce and defer the payment of customs duty, taxes and various fees in a bid to regulate goods prices and address labour problems during the Covid-19 outbreak. Deputy Prime Minister Dr Sonexay Siphandone issued a statement on Thursday saying this was a preliminary measure by the government to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus, and to ease the hardships being felt by the general public.

COVID-19: new entry-exit regulations between Vietnam and Laos Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 6th Apr 2020
The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on April 5 informed Vietnam citizens of new entry-exit regulations the Lao Government has issued as an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ministry noted that the Lao government has completely closed all of its international border gates and not allowed any individuals to go through these border gates, except for trucks carrying goods and emergency cases from April 3-19.

Food & Agriculture

Govt pledges food security during outbreak fears Vientiane Times 6th Apr 2020
There are sufficient imported sources of consumer goods, especially staples, to maintain food security amid concerns of shortages in coming weeks of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, authorities have said. Reports of goods shortages in some countries as the pandemic disrupted production and supply chains, coupled with the Lao government’s three-week-stay-at-home restriction measure (April 1-19) have escalated the concerns.

EU amplifies food and nutrition security in Khammuan Vientiane Times 2nd Apr 2020
The European Union (EU) continues to support Laos in implementing a food and nutrition security project across 100 villages in six districts of Khammuan province. The initiative includes the provision of public address systems with loudspeakers announcing vital health and nutrition information to raise awareness in many communities.

Lao agro firms raise challenges Phnom Penh Post 18th Mar 2020
Lao agribusiness representatives have held talks with officials of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) to try to find solutions to various challenges and barriers. Companies from different fields are also looking to the 2020 Lao Business Forum (LBF), to be held in the near future, as a golden opportunity to use the business platform to inform the government about the problems they face.

Health & Life Sciences

Lao health system continues to offer immunization services despite COVID-19 pandemic Lao News Agency 25th Apr 2020
Despite the arrival of COVID-19 in the Lao PDR last month, the health system here is continuing to provide essential health services – and in particular immunization. This message was endorsed by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization to mark the start of World Immunization Week (WIW). Dr Panome Sayamoungkhoun, Director of the Ministry of Health’s National Immunization Programme stated “Every infant and every child in the Lao PDR has the right to a healthy start to life that vaccines bring. Even though COVID-19 has arrived in our country, diseases such as measles, pertussis, diptheria and many other vaccine preventable diseases have not gone away. These disease can still damage or even kill our children unless we vaccinate them.”

National leadership and harmonised joint efforts for psychosocial support Vientiane Times 24th Apr 2020
Members of the Lao Women’s Union (LWU), Vientiane Youth Centers (VYC) and Lao Youth Union (LYU) recently met in Vientiane to participate in an online training programme on psychosocial support during the Covid-19 pandemic. They discuss the UNFPA elements for psychosocial support and the best collaborative ways to complete and coordinate each other’s work. The participants also exchanged their related experiences and ways to cope with the emotional and behavioural reactions to the epidemic.

WHO Organizes Training Session for Lao Medical Professionals Laotian Times 12th Apr 2020
The World Health Organization (WHO) has sponsored a COVID-19 training session for over 30 Lao medical professionals from central and district hospitals in Vientiane Capital. On 11 April, WHO experts held a training session for 30 Vientiane medical professionals on how to properly manage and treat COVID-19 patients. The professionals were also trained on how to utilize personal protective equipment (PPE).

International medical supply donations assist Covid-19 prevention Vientiane Times 9th Apr 2020
The Ministry of Health has welcomed a donation of medical supplies worth about US117,500 to assist Laos’ efforts to prevent and control the spread of Covid-19 from ICBC Bank. The donation of medical supplies including 150,000 face masks and other essential medical equipment for use in the fight against Covid-19 were handed over to Minister of Health Associate Professor Dr Bounkong Syhavong on Wednesday in Vientiane.

Help curb dengue spread, health sector asks public Vientiane Times 7th Apr 2020
Health Authorities are urging people to clear potential mosquito breeding sites around their homes and workplaces to help control the spread of dengue fever. Activities are focused on long-term prevention rather than solely treatment and are vital to combating the disease, a senior official from the Vientiane Health Department said.

Covid-19: private hospitals and clinics ordered to close KPL 6th Apr 2020
Minister of Health Bounkong Sihavong has issued a notice ordering the closure of private hospitals and clinics nationwide as the country is entering a complete lockdown. (Full document in Lao in article)

China-Laos satellite joint venture joins fight against Covid-19 The Star Online 2nd Apr 2020
The Lao Asia Pacific Satellite (LaosAT), a joint venture between China and Laos, has donated 100 million kip (some US$11,000) to the Lao government to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. Somdy Douangdy, Lao deputy prime minister and chair of the Task Force Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, expressed gratitude for the donation on Wednesday, and said the Lao government will make full use of the donated resources to fight the pandemic.

Laos To Enter Lockdown Starting March 30 Laotian Times 29th Mar 2020
Government Spokesperson and Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Chalern Yapaoher headed a press conference just moments ago, in which he outlined the details of the Prime Minister’s Order regarding the country’s new and upgraded COVID-19 regulations.

Korean agency grants US$1.8 m to address Attapeu children’s well-being Vientiane Times 19th Mar 2020
The Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) has granted US$1.8 million to UNICEF to improve children’s psychosocial well-being and protection in Attapeu province. The cooperation agreement of the two sides was signed recently, attended by Resident Representative of KOICA, Mr Sungsoo Oh, and UNICEF Representative, Octavian Bivol and related sectors. The agreement covers cooperation from 2020-2023 with the programme aiming to improve child protection services for 3,000 children and 10,000 community members over the next four years.

U.S. Announces Additional US$ 2 Million to Support COVID-19 Response in Lao PDR Lao News Agency 16th Mar 2020
U.S. Ambassador Peter M. Haymond announced additional funding of nearly US$ 2 million from the United States in support of the Lao PDR in response to the global spread of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19. Ambassador Haymond made the announcement as part of his opening remarks for a U.S.-sponsored tabletop exercise to help Lao officials and public health workers prepare for next steps in responding to the worldwide pandemic. Dr. Rattanaxay Phetsouvanh, Director General of Department of Communicable Diseases Control (DCDC), representatives of twelve Lao ministries, as well as leaders of United Nations organizations in Laos, joined the tabletop exercise on Mar 13, sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USCDC) and the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), in close partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO).

Lao PDR: New Financing to Improve Access to Health and Nutrition Services Lao News Agency 16th Mar 2020
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved US$23 million for the Lao PDR under the Health and Nutrition Services Access Project (HANSA) on March 12 in Washington, USA. The project aims to strengthen the country’s health system and improve the quality and coverage of service by providing funds to health centers and departments, with support benchmarked against performance. The project enhances the sustainability of public health programmes, including maternal and child health, immunization, tuberculosis (TB) and HIV prevention, with a special focus on reducing malnutrition in the north of the country.

Vietnam assists Laos to fight Covid-19 with medical supplies The Star Online 4th Apr 2020
Medical materials from Vietnam arrived in Lao capital Vientiane by a chartered plane on Saturday morning (April 4) to assist Laos to fight against the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. The supplies including 333,000 standard face mask, 1,000 of protective clothing sets, and some medical equipment, which is worth over US$300,000, Laos News Agency (KPL) reported on Saturday. A receiving ceremony was held at the Wattay International Airport in Vientiane capital, attended by Laoa deputy prime minister and chair of the Task Force Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, Somdy Douangdy, and Vietnamese Ambassador to Laos, Nguyen Ba Hung.

ICT

Viettel Rolls Out Nationwide 5G-ready Timing Solution with ADVA Bloomberg.com 20th Mar 2020
ADVA (FSE:ADV) and NEC Corporation announced that Viettel, a global telecommunications service provider based in Vietnam, has deployed ADVA's Oscilloquartz timing solution throughout Laos and Myanmar to provide nationwide 4G services and prepare its synchronization network for 5G. The technology enables Viettel to smoothly transition its legacy timing infrastructure, deliver 4G coverage to more mobile subscribers and lay the foundations for next-generation services. Installed and maintained by NEC, the new solution is built on ADVA's OSA 3230B primary reference cesium clock (PRC) for assured and precise synchronization with or without GNSS. It also features ADVA's versatile ultra-compact synchronization supply units (SSUs) with high-capacity PTP modules for grandmaster clock functionality.

Infrastructure

Chinese engineering firm fully resumes construction of China-Laos railway The Star Online 25th Apr 2020
The Laos-China Railway Co, Ltd. (LCRC), a joint venture based in the Laos capital Vientiane in charge of the railway, said on Saturday (April 25) that the China Railway Group Limited (CREC) has resumed construction at all its work sites along the China-Laos Railway. Huang Hong, general manager of the CREC China-Laos Railway Project Headquarters in Vientiane, told Xinhua that the CREC, as the main force in the construction of China-Laos railway, has resumed construction in the northern Laos' mountains by 100 percent, which means the railway building has almost returned to the normal level.

Last Mekong River bridge completed on China-Laos Railway The Asset 8th Apr 2020
The Ban Ladhan Mekong River Super Major Bridge has completed its main section closure over the Mekong River, marking the end of major engineering work along the China-Laos Railway, a major Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project. The new railway will run from Lao‘s capital city of Vientiane to the border city of Boten, where it will connect with the Chinese rail network to Kunming. The main contractor on the Ban Ladhan Bridge is the China Railway No. 8 Engineering Group.

Coronavirus Delays Construction on Lao-China Railway Radio Free Asia 7th Apr 2020
The nearly-finished railway project that would connect landlocked Laos with China is facing construction delays due to manpower shortages resulting from the coronavirus crisis, according to local government officials. Laos, which reported its first two confirmed cases of the deadly virus only late last month, had been spared from the effects of the global pandemic for most of February and March, but recently Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith ordered a limit on the numbers of workers, requiring that nonessential workers remain home. In some industries this has led to a complete shutdown, but in the construction sector, it has resulted in projects continuing with fewer laborers on hand.

233 infrastructure development projects to be implemented in Laos in 2020 Xinhua 6th Apr 2020
A total of 233 projects will be implemented in Laos under the Poverty Reduction Fund in 2020, of which a majority are infrastructure development schemes. The 233 projects will be implemented by the Poverty Reduction Fund under Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, in the Fund's main target areas in 23 districts of the six provinces of Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, Saravan, Xekong and Attapeu.

Ministry Orders Temporary Suspension of Mining Activities, Hydropower Construction Laotian Times 6th Apr 2020
The Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines has ordered the temporary suspension of mineral processing plants and hydropower construction projects under a new notice issued yesterday. The notice, signed by Vice Minister of Energy and Mines Thongphat Inthavong, orders the temporary closure of factories and processing plants following the announcement that an employee of Phu Bia Mining Limited had tested positive for Covid-19.

Huayxai airport expansion is over 50 percent complete Vientiane Times 18th Mar 2020
The work on the Huayxai airport expansion project in Bokeo province is now over half complete, with the project scheduled to be completed this year. The runway at Huayxai Airport in Bokeo province is being extended to serve the needs of regional transport and to absorb the growing tourist inflow. The project began on September 24, 2018 and is expected to be completed by November 2020. It consists of the expansion of the runway and better layout for aircraft parking, passenger terminal and the parking lot. The project costs of over 149 billion kip and is fully funded by the government.

Construction of China-Laos railway power supply project starts The Star Online 18th Mar 2020
The power supply project for the China-Laos railway, which was fully carried out on Wednesday (March 18), lays foundation for its scheduled operation in 2021. Along all the four bidding sections of the project in northern Laos, Chinese and Lao engineers cast concrete to cement the first four power tower foundations along the railway. The power supply project for the China-Laos railway is the first BOT (build-operate-transfer) power grid project in Laos, a key project to guarantee the scheduled operation of the China-Laos railway and of building the China-Laos community with a shared future. It is also a symbolic project of the Belt and Road Initiative to advance infrastructure connectivity.

Thailand

Thai- Lao border closed in Phayao Bangkok Post 17th Mar 2020
The border crossing to Laos in Phu Sang district of this northern province has been closed from both sides due to the Covid-19 threat. Phu Sang district chief Wirun Sithiwong said he was informed on Tuesday morning by the chief administrator of Muang Khob, on the Lao  side of the border, that the Pang Mone international border checkpoint had been closed until the Covid-19 situation improves. Therefore, he ordered the Ban Huak checkpoint on the Thai side to also close, effective from Tuesday.

Travel & Tourism

Prime Minister Thongloun Advises Preparing Tourism Sector Laotian Times 28th Apr 2020
Lao Prime Minister Thongoun Sisoulith has advised the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism to use its time wisely in refurbishing and upgrading tourism sites in preparation for the country’s reopening after the Covid-19 pandemic. With the tourism sector in almost complete shutdown due to the pandemic, the PM’s suggestion is in line with advice given by the National Economic Research Institute (NERI), which submitted a report suggesting the government promote greater investment in tourism. The paper by NERI advised the government to use tourism downtime wisely by investing in the sector in preparation for future tourism by upgrading tourist attractions and boosting services to ensure they meet international standards.

Hotel and Restaurant Owners Discuss Concerns with DPM Laotian Times 28th Apr 2020
Hotel and restaurant owners have brought their concerns before the Deputy Prime Minister in relation to lockdown measures put in place during the coronavirus, or Covid-19, pandemic. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and Investment, Mr. Sonexay Siphandone, met with representatives of the Lao Hotel and Restaurant Association at the Landmark Riverside Hotel on 26 April. The DPM took note of the various concerns raised by the Lao Hotel and Restaurant Association and said that he would bring them before the Prime Minister in a specific meeting to address their issues. Lockdown in Laos could be lifted on 3 May if no new cases of Covid-19 are confirmed.

Laos celebrates new year under Covid-19 cloud - UCA News ucanews.com 20th Apr 2020
Millions of Buddhists in Laos are celebrating the New Year holiday at home as the communist nation struggles with the Covid-19 pandemic. President Bounnhang Vorachith wished people of all ethnic groups a happy Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year) on April 13 when the country began a three-day holiday welcoming the Buddhist era year 2563. The Southeast Asian nation of seven million people has been under lockdown since March 29 when Prime Minister Thongloum Sisoulith ordered a shutdown of all non-essential activities and travel to check the spread of the coronavirus. President Bounnhang thanked people of all ethnic groups, party cadres, officials, soldiers and police officers for supporting the country's economic progress. The new year will see the party and state focus on poverty reduction, the octogenarian leader said.

Vietnam helps Laos prepare for UNESCO recognition of national reserve VietnamPlus 6th Apr 2020
A working group of Vietnamese cultural heritage experts has been established by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to support Laos in compiling a dossier seeking UNESCO recognition of Hin Namno National Reserve as a World Natural Heritage Site. The reserve is located in Khammouane province, some 150km from Thakhek town in the southeast region of the country.

Luang Prabang tourist sites temporarily shut down The Star Online 5th Apr 2020
Luang Prabang officials recently announced the temporary closure of services at all tourist sites in the province from April 1 till April 21 to minimise the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak. Director of Luang Prabang Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Dr Soudaphone Khomthavong said yesterday that all tourist sites in the province were temporarily closed including the old royal palace national museum, Mount Phousi, Kuang Xi Falls, Ting Cave and other attractions.

2 China-Laos Railway bridges complete closure over Mekong River Macau Business 2nd Apr 2020
The Ban Ladhan Mekong River Super Major Bridge on Wednesday achieved its main section closure over the Mekong River, and thus, both the cross-Mekong bridges along the railway have completed its major engineering work.

Vietnam

Extra efforts made to sign RCEP in Vietnam in late 2020 VietnamPlus 18th Apr 2020
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) dialogue partners are advancing the review of legal texts, with an expectation of the process finishing in July so the pact can be signed at the ASEAN Summit in Vietnam later this year as scheduled. Auramon Supthaweethum, Director-General of the Trade Negotiations Department under Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce, said the working panel handling the legal text-scrubbing for the pact has already finished six chapters and is working on the remaining 14 chapters. The first video conference was applied to the RCEP Trade Negotiation Committee meeting on April 7. The next video conference of the committee is scheduled for April 20-24.