Workshop on Accelerating Development of Regional Logistics Channels and Transportation Infrastructure for the Lancang-Mekong Region in the Context of the China-Lao PDR-Thailand Railway

October 23 - 24, 2023

On December 3, 2021, a 422-km standard-gauge Boten-Vientiane Railway, the Lao section of the China-Lao PDR Railway, was officially opened, which connected the China section through a 613-km standard-gauge railway running from Mohan, Yuxi to Kunming (see Figure 1). As part of this railway connection, an extension of Lao PDR-Thailand railway is expected to operate between Vientiane, Lao PDR and Nongkhai, Thailand1 in 2023. It will be linked to the China-Lao PDR Railway at the Thanaleng Dry Port in Vientiane, where the freight will be transloaded from one track to another. By 2030, the China-Lao PDR-Thailand Railway will be extended from Nongkhai to Bangkok through Nakhon Ratchasima in Thailand, which is also expected to link to the Thailand’s Laem Chabang Sea port.

Figure 1: China-Lao Railway

With the fully operational China-Lao segment of China-Lao PDR-Thailand Railway network, it is likely to push the international transport and trade among the Lancang-Mekong and ASEAN member states and beyond. The railway has paved the path to transform Lao PDR from a landlocked to a land-linked state. Eventually, the railway will link China to Singapore through Lao PDR, Thailand and Malaysia (Figure 2).

Figure 2: China-Lao-Thailand (proposed) Railway

Currently, maritime trade dominates the industry, but incorporating railways could provide additional opportunities for growth. In addition, the railway system originating from Kunming, China would create additional connections between LM countries and ASEAN member states to markets located in other parts of the world, including Russia, Europe, Africa, Central Asia, and other parts of Asia. These connections would be made possible through the use of wider railway corridors and various modes of transportation, such as air travel, maritime transportation, and road networks. This is part of the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) economic corridors, as illustrated in Figure 3. 

Figure 3: Economic Corridors of Belt and Road Initiative

As per a recent World Bank report2, the China-Lao PDR-Thailand Railway is expected to lower transport costs by 30-50% and significantly increase the trade volume and passenger traffic along the railway line supported by the trade corridor. However, to benefit from the railway network, several challenges need to be addressed. For instance, the transport cost may vary due to the capacity and efficiency of transport and logistics services, furthermore transloading freight between different track gauge of China-Lao PDR and Lao-Thailand Railway sections may be problematic. Moreover, in Lao PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and most of the border areas between LM countries, the lack of developed infrastructure and logistical services connecting train stations to other modes of transportation, as well as production and consumption centers, may have a negative impact on the effectiveness of trade facilitation and tourism between LM countries and other regions. 

Therefore, to take full advantage of the China-Lao PDR-Thailand railway, with the support of Yunnan government, MI would like to propose a capacity building project by assessing the current infrastructure and logistics, development issues, challenges and required facilitation measures for trade, investment, and tourism along the railway network. Based on the assessment, a training course will be designed to enhance the capacities of the key public and private sector stakeholders that will allow them to share information on the opportunities, challenges and the need for a coordinated approach to overcoming constraints in the promotion of LM trade and investment.

The project is designed to optimize the benefits of the China-Lao PDR–Thailand railway in the following ways:

  • Identify the current state of development, challenges, and opportunities related to the transit of goods and passengers through the railway and connected multimodal transport channels.
  • Develop a country road map that outlines strategies for developing railway infrastructure development and corresponding logistics channels in anticipation of the upcoming China-Lao PDR-Thailand Railways.
  • Promote coordination among LM countries to establish seamless trade facilitation measures through the railway-multimodal transport and logistics channels.
  • Gain knowledge through interaction and visits to key transport and logistics infrastructure development project in specific rail transport corridor.
  • Recommend practical options, policy measures and institutional arrangement to financing, managing and promoting the development of logistics channels.

The following objectives will be achieved by the end of project: participants will be able to,

  • Assess development potential of utilizing the China-Lao PDR-Thailand railway.
  • Identify the needs for the transit of goods and passengers along the railway.
  • Design feasible country strategies by determining opportunities for trade and investments in multimodal transport and logistics channels.

The target participants for the workshop will be middle-senior level / director level officials from government, trade, and investment associations, think tanks and research institutions in the public and private sector involved in trade, investment and planning, transport and logistics in the Lancang-Mekong (LM) region, which includes Cambodia, P.R. China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

The workshop will be organized in a hybrid format, which includes both on-site and online participation. A total of 24 participants from six LM countries are expected to attend 1) the introductory workshop on-site at Mekong Institute, Khon Kaen, Thailand on October 23, 2023, 2) the Structured Learning Visit from Khon Kaen, Thailand to Boten, Lao PDR on October 24-28, 2023 and 3) the Synthesis and Evaluation Workshop on October 29, 2023 in Boten.

Qualification of Applicants

✓ Be able to communicate in English;
✓ Involved in trade, tourism, transport and logistics and related to the China-Lao railway development and operation in the Lancang-Mekong (LM) region;
✓ Have sufficient professional capacity to actively participate in cross-culturally at regional and international level; 
✓ Be able to commit to attend all activities

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Mr. Madhurjya Kumar Dutta
Director
Trade and Investment Facilitation Department Tel: (+66) 43 202 411 (Ext: 2105)
Email: dutta@mekonginstitute.org

Ms. Wen HAO
Senior Program Coordinator
Trade and Investment Facilitation Department Tel: (+66) 43 202 411 (Ext: 2105)
Mobile/WhatsApp/Line: (+66) 8 7423 2983
Email: haowen@mekonginstitute.org

Ms. Thongvone Sosamphan
Program Officer
Trade and Investment Facilitation (TIF) Department Tel: +66 (0) 43 202 411 ext. 2113
Mobile: +66 (0) 88-9900008
Email: Thongvone@mekonginstitute.org

Ms. Sasiporn Phuphaploy
Program Assistant
Trade and Investment Facilitation Department Tel: +66 (0) 43 202 4112 ext. 4095
Mobile: +66 (0) 93 778 5666
Email: sasiporn@mekonginstitute.org

To download the concept note, click here

To download the agenda, click here

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