Thailand’s Firm Intention to Strengthen Relations with Laos (13/12/2010)
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Thai-Lao diplomatic relations on 19 December 2010, Thailand has reiterated its commitment to further enhancing and strengthening long-standing bilateral relations with Lao PDR.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva paid a visit to Laos on December 9, when he said that he would like to see closer ties between private sector organizations and the peoples of the two countries. The Prime Minister also attended the official inauguration of the Nam Theun 2 Multi-Purpose Project, a cooperation program among Laos, Thailand, France, and several international organizations.

The 1,070-megawatt-hydropower project, aims to generate revenue for poverty reduction and environmental protection. Located on the Nam Theun River in Laos, it exports power to Thailand while supplying the local area with electricity. Construction of the 1.3 billion-US-dollar dam began in June 2005 and was completed in April 2010.

During the inauguration ceremony, Prime Minister Abhisit cited the Nam Theun hydroelectric dam project as another exemplary success that would help further advance Laos’ economic and social development and ensure energy security for countries in this region. He pointed out that the Thai government believed that being a partner in the development of the Nam Theun 2 project and a purchaser of electricity it produces would promote not only trade and investment between Thailand and Laos but also subregional cooperation. This will boost international confidence and attract more foreign investment, especially in the energy sector, where Lao PDR has tremendous potential. Furthermore, the project would help Lao PDR develop smoothly and realize its vision to become the “Battery of Asia,” or “an energy reserve hub for the region,” as well as to attain the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by the year 2015.

Since the private sector of Thailand is part of the success of the Nam Theun 2 project, the Prime Minister congratulated the Electricity Generating Public Company Limited (EGCO) and Italian-Thai Development Public Company Limited, which have worked in close collaboration with the Lao authorities and EDF International of France until the huge project was completed. He said that he wished to see Lao PDR develop with security, prosperity, and improvement of quality of life, and move forward in a sustainable manner.

Prime Minister Abhisit emphasized the Thai government’s policy to encourage the private sector and state enterprises to invest in Lao PDR, while enhancing corporate social responsibility, which renders benefits to local communities and protects the environment at the same time. He added that the Thai-Lao relationship, which is deeply rooted in culture, tradition, religion, and language, is the basis on which cooperation between the countries will flourish with better understanding and mutual support of each other.

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