Laos, Brunei trade still lacking
Trade value between Laos and Brunei is relatively low as compared to other Asean countries despite the two governments boosting economic, trade and investment cooperation.
The trade value of Lao exports to Brunei last year reached US$53,600 while imports reached US$85,000, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
Most of the exported products are vehicles, spare parts and clothing, while the imported products are furniture and electrical equipment.
To increase the trade value between the two countries, the Lao government should look toward the agriculture products due of the country as it has potential in this sector, economist and business advisor Dr Mana Southichack said.
However, the government has to boost promotion of investment in this field as most of the farmers in Laos are still producing using primary methods, he added.
Most of the agricultural products are still quite limited in quality and quantity not to mention marketing skills as well, Dr Mana further explained.
The government will also need to study food consumption in Brunei as most of the popular foods there serve a Muslim population.
Brunei is one of the few oil rich countries in Asean but their trade and investment remain small. Relations between the two countries have been established since July 27, 1993.
In 1999, both countries signed a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of a Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC). While a MoU on sports cooperation had also been signed in 2013.
The two countries have also been in the process of setting up a barter trade agreement where both may exchange their locally produced products in accordance with the needs of each other.
Thailand is still the top trading partner with Laos among Asean countries and bilateral trade continues to expand year-on-year.
In 2013, the combined import and export value from Laos to Thailand reached over US$4 billion, of which the export value was over US$1.62 billion while the import value reached US$2.44 billion.
The import and export value from Laos to Thailand in 2016 reached US$4.6 billion, including US$2 billion of exported goods and over US$2.6 billion in imports.
Thailand is the number one trading partners with Laos as both countries have an understanding with each other, with a similar language and culture, Dr Mana said.
Thailand is also a neighbouring country along Laos' Mekong riverbanks which eases trade along the border and contributes to lower costs.
Dr Mana also mentioned that various good quality products from different countries in Asia and Europe export through Thailand.