Laos, Cuba set new heights for economic and trade cooperation

Laos and Cuba are expected to enhance trade and investment opportunities following a high-ranking Cuban trade delegation’s official visit to Vientiane during September 8-9.

The Cuban delegation was led by the Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Mr Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz, and included several officials.

The main purpose of the visit was to strengthen cooperation between the two governments and enhance collaboration in trade following previous visits of high-ranking officials from the two sides, during which Laos and Cuba agreed to promote bilateral economic relations.

As part of the agenda of the visiting delegation, Mr Diaz also led team in talks with Lao trade officials.

The Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr Somchit Inthamith, represented the Lao Minister of Industry and Commerce in welcome the Cuban delegates during their courtesy visit.

During a friendly discussion between the two sides, Mr Diaz told the Lao deputy minister that his visit was part of efforts to strengthen bilateral relations that were recently enhanced by the high-ranking officials of Laos and Cuba over the past few years.

“We are here in Laos to seek cooperation ties with the line ministries of the Lao PDR, to exchange information and to create opportunities for business and investment in both countries,” he said.

Mr Diaz lauded the long-standing relations between the two countries and expressed his determination to boost bilateral economic cooperation, especially for trade in agricultural products.

“We’d also like to invite Lao trade officials and Lao business representatives to join this year’s trade fair to be held in Cuba and an official invitation will be made soon. This will enable us to seek ways to further strengthen our cooperation in future,” he said.

The Lao participants can take this opportunity to learn about markets in Cuba, Mr Diaz added.

Mr Somchit, who was temporarily given responsibility as the Acting Minister, said the Lao side is keen to take part in this event and the Lao delegation may include ministry leaders and businesspeople.

Before making the courtesy visit to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the Cuban delegation visited the Lao Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Somdy Duangdy, at the Prime Minister’s Office and met representatives of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI).

A number of Lao businessmen exchanged information and shared experiences with the Cuban delegates about doing business in Laos.

Cuba established diplomatic relations with Laos on November 4, 1974, and the Embassy of Cuba is located in Vientiane. Since then, the senior leaders of Laos and Cuba have made official visits.

Socio-economic cooperation between the two countries is not as extensive as it might be because there are many difficult circumstances and limitations on both sides.

The Cuban government has provided technical assistance to Laos in education, sports and banking in recent years.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuban President's Tour: Reunion with Friends of all Time

Russia, North Korea, China, Vietnam and Laos, five visits to those countries of the Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, cemented in just two weeks old and valuable relations, confirming that times pass, but the real ones friends are left.

Almost like a road map, Díaz-Canel used his Twitter account to report the main incidents in each nation and his impressions about a journey aimed at ratifying 'the continuity of the Revolution and thanks for the solidarity that fuels our resistance'.

The Cuban president made a brief stop in France, where he met with the Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, and with the Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay.

From there he traveled on Friday 2 to Russia, where he held official talks with his counterpart from that country, Vladimir Putin.

He also met with Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, the headlines of the Duma (Lower House), Vyacheslav Volodin, and the Senate, Valentina Matvienko, the communist leader Gennady Zyuganov and the Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russians Kiril.

At the end of their stay in Moscow, Diaz-Canel and Putin signed a joint statement in which they reaffirmed the strategic partnership between their countries, condemned the interventionism and advocated a multi-polar world.

The visit left the balance of the agreement of a greater participation of Russia in projects related to energy, transport, pharmaceutical, metallurgy, culture and humanities.

At the start of the Asian leg of his tour, the Cuban president arrived at noon on Sunday 4 to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), where he received a massive popular reception at the airport and the main avenues of Pyongyang.

In addition to holding official talks with the chairman of the State Committee of the DPRK, Kim Jong-un, Diaz-Canel met more than once with him and renewed the friendship between the two nations.

Our relations are historical and are based on mutual respect and admiration, founded on the friendship of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz and the great leader Kim Il-sung, he said.

The Cuban president also met with the president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, Kim Yong Nam, and with Prime Minister Pak Pong Ju.

The respective delegations signed cooperation agreements in areas such as tourism, education and public health.

When he left, he wrote in his Twitter account: 'The delegation of #Cuba says goodbye to the beautiful # RepúbicaPopularDemocráticaDeCorea, to which we thank their unwavering condemnation of the blockade, a cruel and unjust policy that also suffers the Korean people for sanctions against their government #NoMasBlock '.

In China, Díaz-Canel attended the first International Exposition of Imports in Shanghai, attended by more than three thousand local and foreign companies.

In the Asian giant he was received by President Xi Jinping; Prime Minister Li Keqiang; and the President of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Li Zhanshu.

After the official talks, the parties signed agreements to increase production capacity in prioritized collaboration projects and the granting of a Chinese loan that will support the acquisition of construction equipment for the renewable energy and tourism sectors, among others.

Diaz-Canel arrived in Vietnam almost at midnight on Thursday 8 and the following day held official talks with the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam and President of this country, Nguyen Phu Trong, who imposed the Order of Ho Chi Minh.

The two presidents also witnessed the signing of the trade agreement that over the next few years will govern the operations of the two countries in this area.

In Hanoi, Diaz-Canel was also received by the Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and the head of the National Assembly, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan.

On Saturday 10, he traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam and its main economic, industrial and financial center, and from there he flew directly to the neighboring Lao People's Democratic Republic (RDPL).

In Vientiane held official talks with the president and general secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, Bounnhang Vorachith.

Both also witnessed the signing of a cooperation agreement between the Ministry of Education and Sports of the RDPL and the National Institute of Physical Education, Sports and Recreation of the Antillean nation.

Members of its delegations also signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the Bank of the RDPL and the Central Bank of Cuba.

Diaz-Canel also met with Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and the head of the National Assembly, Pany Yathotou.

  • Published in Cuba

South Korea Firm Says Laos Dam Damage Found Day Before Collapse

Seoul: The South Korean partner in a Laos hydropower dam said Wednesday it discovered the upper part of the structure had washed away 24 hours before it collapsed, engulfing villages and leaving hundreds missing.

The wall of water unleashed Monday by the failure of the dam in the country's southeast surged downstream, sweeping away homes and leaving an unknown number of people feared dead.

SK Engineering & Construction, a South Korean builder that is one of the partners in the project, said it discovered the damage to an auxiliary dam at around 9:00 pm Sunday local time.

"We immediately alerted the authorities and began evacuating (nearby) villagers downstream," it said in a statement.

Repair work was hampered by heavy rain which had damaged roads, it said, and early on Monday water was discharged from the Xe-Namnoy dam -- one of the two main dams in the project -- to try to relieve pressure on the auxiliary structure.

The government was warned about further damage to the dam at around noon, prompting an official evacuation order for villagers downstream, and the structure collapsed a few hours later, it said.

By Tuesday morning, seven out of 12 villages located downstream were flooded, it said. Aerial pictures showed a vast brown inundation swamping houses and jungle alike over a huge area.

Another video showed families waiting for rescue on the rooftop of their house, with a nearby Buddhist temple partially submerged.

The South Korean firm said it had sent a crisis team to the site, dispatching helicopters, boats and rescue workers.

"Currently, SK E&C is actively working on personnel recovery and damage relief with the Laotian government," it said.

Communist Laos is traversed by a vast network of rivers and several dams are being built or planned in the impoverished and landlocked country, which exports most of its hydropower energy to neighbouring countries such as Thailand.

The $1.2 billion dam located near the border with Cambodia is part of a project by Vientiane-based Xe Pian Xe Namnoy Power Company, or PNPC, a joint venture formed in 2012 between a Laotian, a Thai and two South Korean companies, according to the project's website.

The 410 megawatt capacity plant was supposed to start commercial operations by 2019, according to the venture's website.

The project consists of a series of dams over the Houay Makchanh, the Xe-Namnoy and the Xe-Pian rivers in Champasak province.

It planned to export 90 percent of its electricity to energy-hungry Thailand and the remainder was to be offered up on the local grid.

Under the terms of construction, PNPC said it would operate and manage the power project for 27 years after commercial operations began.

  • Published in World

President of Laos to visit Cuba

Comrade Choummaly Sayasone, President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos and Secretary General of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, will arrive in Cuba this Thursday, October 1, on an official visit.

During his stay, he will hold official talks with Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, as well as undertaking other activities.

  • Published in Cuba
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