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President Barack Obama Arrives in Vientiane

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President Barack Obama arrived in Vientiane on Monday in his Air Force One on a four-day visit to take part in major events held on the sidelines of the 28th and 29thASEAN Summits.

The US President was greeted at the Wattay International Airport in Vientiane by Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Bosengkham Vongdara.

The official visit by Mr Obama is also in response to an invitation by President Bounnhang Vorachit to enhance the ties and cooperation between the Lao PDR and the U.S.

The U.S. President will participate in the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit as well as have bilateral meetings with President Bounnhang Vorachit and other key officials to advance Laos – U.S. cooperation on economics, development, and people-to-people ties, among other areas.

President Obama will also participate in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Summit, where he will hold a town hall meeting.  

During the ASEAN Summit, President Obama will discuss ways to strengthen economic cooperation with the countries of Southeast Asia and further enhance collaboration on regional and global challenges.  

At the East Asia Summit, President Obama will coordinate with the region’s leaders on efforts to advance a rules-based international order.

The US is among key development partners of the Lao PDR. The bilateral cooperation over the past decades has been focused on addressing UXO – unexploded ordnance issues, the search for the remains of US prisoners of war (POW) and soldiers missing in action (MIA), institutional capacity building, child nutrition, education, opium eradication, drug control and supervision, anti-AIDS efforts, facilitation of Laos’ access to the World Trade Organisation and ASEAN integration. 

In terms of trade relations, though the value of trade has increased five-fold since the two countries established normal trade relations in 2005, the value remains small with US$33 million recorded from Jan-May, 2016, and US$69.8 million last year.  The value of bilateral trade recorded in 2005 was only US$14 million.

U.S. exports to Laos include diamonds, metals, aircraft, vehicles, and agricultural products.  The U.S. imports from Laos include apparel, inorganic chemicals, agricultural products, and jewellery, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Source: Vientiane Times