New Silk Road Finance Awards 2017 Southeast Asia: Best BRI project/initiative
Kunming-Vientiane high-speed rail link (lead bank: Export-Import Bank of China)
Laos is small, landlocked and one of the poorest countries in southeast Asia. But a colossal infrastructure project, which will connect China to Singapore through Vientiane, the country’s sleepy capital, could have a dramatic impact.
While some countries in southeast Asia, such as Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia, are upgrading existing railway networks or developing underground lines with Chinese support, Laos is getting its first-ever, 427-kilometre-long railway, funded by China at an estimated cost of $7 billion.
To put that in perspective, GDP in Laos last year was only $15.9 billion.
On completion, the benefits for Laos should be huge, providing an alternative to the dangerous dirt roads. A new railway will connect remote cities, potentially bringing people closer to better jobs, healthcare and education, and will give Laos access to sea ports. It should also provide a welcome boost for the country’s growing tourist industry.