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China, Vietnam to build economic corridor
Updated: 2004-09-16 02:35

One Chinese province and four Vietnamese northern localities are pulling their socks up to build an economic corridor to broaden and deepen multi-faceted ties between the two countries under a medium-and long-term plan worked out by the two governments.

Top leaders of China's Yunnan Province and the four Vietnamese cities and provinces of Hanoi, Hai Phong, Quang Ninh and Lao Cai gathered here early this month for their first meeting on the issue, touching measures to facilitate the construction of the economic corridor involving Yunnan's capital city Kunming and the four localities, mainly by giving a boost to transport, trade, tourism and investment.

The medium-and long-term plan also includes another economic corridor involving Nanning city in China's Guangxi province and the three Vietnamese localities of Lang Son, Hanoi and Hai Phong, and the Beibu Gulf economic belt.

Under the meeting's minute signed by Yunnan's Governor Xu Rongkai and chairmen of People's Committees of the four Vietnamese cities and provinces on Sept. 3, the five localities agreed to cooperate in turning the Kunming-Lao Cai-Hanoi-Hai Phong-Quang Ninh economic corridor into one of key routes in economic development ties between China and Vietnam in the principles of free will, equality and win-win relation.

Specifically, the five localities will focus their cooperation on facilitating bilateral trade via the international border gate of Lao Cai-Hekou, developing international tourism routes involving China, Vietnam and some other regional countries, conducting trade and investment promotion programs, and proposing the two governments raise transport capacity of road and railway networks in the corridor.

During the meeting, the five top leaders mentioned the necessity of upgrading the road route of Lao Cai-Hanoi-Quang Ninh, and the two possibilities of upgrading the existing rail route from Hanoi to Lao Cai, and building a new one to satisfy higher demand for transporting cargoes, especially goods from the Hai Phong seaport in Hai Phong city and the Cai Lan seaport in Quang Ninh province to China through the international border gate of Lao Cai-Hekou and in the reverse direction.

Yunnan and Lao Cai authorities are working together to permit automobiles of one province carrying passengers, fresh vegetables, fruits or frozen seafood to travel deep into the territory of the other province in the next few months to cut costs for their enterprises and visitors, said Bui Quang Vinh, chairman of the Lao Cai People's Committee.

Lao Cai is scheduled to start building a 20-meter wide bridge, the widest one in Vietnam, to connect its trade area with the Chinese province in late 2004, and put into operation an inland container depot with a daily capacity of 1,000 containers in early 2005, he added.

Regarding trade facilitation, the chairmen of the four Vietnamese localities, in a meeting in mid-August 2004, agreed to propose the State Bank of Vietnam allow commercial banks in their territories to join hands with commercial banks in Yunnan on international payment in the mode of letters of credit (L/C) in local currencies.

Commercial banks in Lao Cai and their partners in the Chinese province began issuing L/C in Vietnam dong or yuan in December 2003, facilitating and securing transactions between Vietnamese and Chinese enterprises, Vinh said, noting that Lao Cai is now the only locality in Vietnam to have applied such kind of payment mode.

In the near future, the Vietnamese Ministry of Trade is expected to take new measures to strengthen Vietnam-China trade through the international border gate of Lao Cai-Hekou, such as the establishment of trade centers and supermarkets adjacent to bordering areas, the organization of fairs, forums and exhibitions, and the exchange of trade information.

Concerning customs and entry-exit procedures, the top leaders of Yunnan and four Vietnamese localities agreed to simplify procedures and facilitate the flow of tourists and entrepreneurs via border gates.

Lao Cai has already proposed the Vietnam Department General of Customs carry out the "one-time" inspection of goods at the border gate, under which Vietnamese and Chinese customs will jointly inspect the goods and verify the inspection results.

In a bigger move, the five localities agreed to launch tourism routes linking Chinese localities such as Yunnan and Beijing with Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.

Yunnan attaches great importance to cooperation with the four Vietnamese northern cities and provinces, especially Lao Cai and Hanoi, Xu Rongkai said, noting that the two-way trade between the Chinese province and Vietnam rose 36 percent to 220 million US dollars last year.

The trade is likely to reach 300 million dollars this year and 500 million dollars next year, he said, hoping it will account for at least 10 percent of the total import-export turnover of China and Vietnam in the near future.

Now, major Vietnamese goods entering China via border gates include seafood, fruits grown in the northern and southern deltas, consumer goods like detergents, plastic wares, footwear, confectioneries, processed coffee and tea, and materials such as latex, unprocessed cashew nuts and dried cassava.

Yunnan in particular and the Chinese southwestern region in general supply Vietnam with machines, equipment, metal tools, chemicals, coke, clinker and agricultural strains such as potatoes, hybrid rice, flowers and fruits.

According to economists, once completed, the economic corridor will help Vietnam boost exports to China, especially in its western and southwestern regions. It also complies with China's strategy on encouraging its enterprises to do businesses abroad, stepping up trade and investment ties between China and Vietnam as well as other Southeast Asian countries.

In recent years, the trade and economic relations between China and Vietnam have seen remarkable development. Their bilateral trade, which reached about 4.6 billion US dollars last year, is expected to surpass 5 billion dollars this year. The two countries have targeted trade revenues of 10 billion dollars in 2010.

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