Meeting of party general secretaries and top leaders of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam

The party general secretaries of Laos, and Vietnam and Prime Minister of Cambodia, met in Hanoi on September 26th to intensify cooperation in various sectors to promote economic development, peace, and stability in the region. The general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the Laos People’s Revolutionary Party Laos and President Thongloun Sisoulith, and Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen met to discuss issues such as intensifying trilateral relationship, solidarity, and promotion of friendship among the three countries.  

This year in March 2021 the three countries have outlined a blueprint for promoting specific projects and tourism among the three countries. The motive of this initiative was named as “Three Countries- One Destination”. Given the fact many international companies are interested in this trilateral growth area, therefore during the 2018 meeting of the prime ministers of the three countries, it was envisaged that the leaders of the three countries would work together for integrated development and promote sustainable and prosperity among themselves. Earlier, the blueprint which was particularly known as Cambodia- Laos-Vietnam Development Triangle Area instituted in 1999 which included only 10 border provinces.  A decade later in 2009 the leadership of the three countries added three more provinces and in total 13 provinces were added to the growth and development triangle area. 

Invariably, it has been seen that the three countries have been growing very rapidly with Vietnam being one of the fastest developing economies in Southeast Asia, and Cambodia clocking nearly 7 per cent of average growth rate. Laos is also seen as one of the countries which have highest potential of growth and therefore these three countries are working together for promoting investment and trade among the three countries. Vietnam as a Indochina leader has invested in infrastructure projects in Cambodia and Laos, and the three countries are looking over not only for economic development but also social and cultural development along with promoting security among the three nations. Vietnam has been one of the largest investors in Laos in the year 2020, with the jump of 130 per cent in comparison to the previous year. Vietnam Cambodia bilateral trade already crossed $6 billion and is expected to hit 10 billion target by the year 2023. 

Even with regard to promoting scientific research and development, the IAEA had signed triangular cooperation agreement with Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in the year 2019. Under this agreement the International Atomic Energy agency would be providing support in areas such as nondestructive testing and exploring varied applications related to nuclear medicine and mutation breeding. Under these practical arrangements Vietnam is expected to provide short and long-term education and training to its two other neighbours. Under this initiative Vietnam is expected to provide experts and teachers on areas such as nuclear technology and sciences. The technical cooperation programme between the three countries is aimed for peaceful uses of nuclear science and technologies and promoting research and knowledge in this unexplored field. 

Under the CLV initiatives there has been a lot of cooperation which is going on between the three countries with related to fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic as well as providing free vaccination to diplomats and students residing in each other’s countries. In the meeting which was held in March 2021 between the three prime ministers, the leaders briefed each other about the pandemic control and standard operating protocols for protecting citizens from this pandemic. The three countries have been cooperating about donation of medical supplies and providing necessary medication at times of need. 

The CLV countries have been working effectively in promoting cooperation in terms of border management, promoting security, trade and investment, infrastructure development, and education. One of the important initiatives where is the three countries have taken is related to border management and promoting security cooperation along the border. The structural and institutional arrangements which have been established have promoted trade and investment along the border as well as entry of people and goods through the border areas. In terms of connectivity the three countries have already decided in March 2021 to resume the international flights and more people to people exchange among the three countries. 

In terms of institutional setup, the three countries have been working on Cambodia, Laos Vietnam economic connectivity plan 2030 which is aimed at promoting construction of highway and railways. Under that plan there is proposal for construction of Hanoi-Vientiane highway, Phnom Penh –Ho Chi Minh Railway, and Vung Ang- Vientiane railway lines. 

The Asian Development Bank is also working with Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar to build health networks against infectious diseases and addressing major public health issues. In this context the Asian Development Bank has also enhanced the project financing which was about $20 million for the purpose of greater Mekong sub region health security project. Under this project the procurement support was given for CT scanners, cargo trucks, forklifts, office equipment, RRT jackets, health education materials, COVID- 19 emergency laboratory supplies, supportive treatment, X ray diagnostics, quick testing kits, and related medical equipments. 

In the meeting which was held on September 26th it was stated that there is a need for coordination for social economic recovery and undertaking urgent measures to combat the pandemic. In terms of pandemic containment and economic recovery, it was discussed that there needs to be a common standard among the three countries. Japan has been equally interested in investing in these countries because of high growth potential and improvement in infrastructure and better avenues for investment. The meeting between the three important leaders of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam outlined the fact that in terms of building better understanding on Mekong River, collaboration in defence domain, economic growth triangle, and promoting tourism would be the main agenda for the countries in the coming future.   

Prof. Pankaj Jha
Prof. Pankaj Jha
Pankaj Jha is faculty with Jindal School of International Affairs, O P Jindal Global University, Sonepat. He can be reached at pankajstrategic[at]