CHIANG RAI – The fourth Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge has brought economic expansion and has helped increase trade between Chiang Rai’s Chiang Khong district and businesses across the border in Laos and beyond.
A few months have passed since the grand opening of the bridge connecting Chiang Rai with Bokeo Province in Laos. It was opened on December 11 of last year with the cooperation of Thai, Chinese and Laotian governments to link the transportation systems together, under an agreement of Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) countries. The project costs 1.57 billion baht.
The interconnectedness of the economic systems in GMS is continually developing and countries in Southeast Asia are becoming closer than ever. Chiang Khong district is one example of a place where economic development is expected to expand as a result. These expansion means that there is more product demand from Thailand, especially consumer products, construction materials and fuel, and Thai exports will continue to increase.
Besides offering a beautiful view of the Mekong waterfront, the 4th Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge is the most significant advance toward securing free trade between China and ASEAN, and the bridge is becoming a center of transportation, trade, investment and others services as the region gets ready for the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015. So far, it is clear that border trading has become much stronger since the bridge was built.
“The opening of the new bridge will increase the chances for entrepreneurs to expand their markets to Laos and China,” explained Supot Sikhares, a Customs Technical Officer for the new bridge border checkpoint. “Border development is the main key to facilitate international trade, investment, and tourism. We are ready to support the new transportation route, which has become a trade zone.”
The Chiang Khong market, near the bridge, is like a gateway to Indochina. This market was built to serve the increase in border trading and there is a variety of OTOP products available for trade. The aim is to upgrade the market into becoming a shopping mall and to accommodate the logistics concerning international trade.
Traders in Chiang Khong market expect the new developments to help the market become more important and they have recommended that border officials to improve the local services and utilities to facilitate the expansion.
The bridge represents the significance of Chiang Rai province in fulfilling the economic development within GMS, and it is an important opportunity for Thailand to be the center of transportation in the developing region.