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Survey of border trade between Vietnam and Laos at Cau Treo border gate – Ha Tinh province

Within the framework of the regional research project "Cross-border agricultural trade between Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos”, the research team of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agricultural and Rural Development (IPSARD) surveyed in Ha Tinh province from August 8 to August 12, 2023. During the survey, the IPSARD research team visited and interviewed several trade regulatory agencies including Cau Treo Border Gate Border Guard Station about the situation of border agricultural trade at the Border Gate.

Photo: IPSARD’s survey at Cau Treo border gate, Ha Tinh, Vietnam.

Cau Treo border gate plays an important role in trade between Vietnam and Laos

Cau Treo International Border Gate is the nearest gateway connecting Vientiane's Capital - Laos as well as the Northeastern provinces of Thailand to the north-central provinces of Vietnam to the capital Hanoi. The border gate is a quite convenient location for transportation, trade of goods, investment and tourism between Vietnam and Laos. According to Mr. Nguyen Cong Hao, Deputy Head of Cau Treo Border Guard Station: "From 2020 and 2021, due to the complicated situation of the Covid-19 epidemic in both Vietnam and Laos, activities at the border gate was paused. Immigration activities must be put into a stricter state to ensure good epidemic prevention and control. Until May 2022, after the Covid-19 epidemic is controlled, the border gates are reopened, and immigration and import-export activities have returned to normal”.

At the border gates, the inspection and supervision of immigration and import and export activities have been promoted to reform administrative procedures, apply information technology to process immigration procedures, control vehicles passing through the border gate. Requirements on Border Guard and Customs procedures, as well as regulations on collection of publicly posted fees and charges and ensuring that people and enterprises grasp the provisions of the law on immigration, import and export of goods and agricultural products, helping to reduce time of procedures at the border gates.

Agricultural trade through border gate

According to the survey result at the border gate, there are many products traded and exchanged through the border gate. Vietnam exports leather shoes, garments and some supplies, raw materials, equipment, wires, and machinery to Laos. In contrast, Vietnam imports wood and wood products (charcoal), ore, rice ... from Laos. Regarding agricultural products, Vietnam imports from Laos high-quality rice such as: Laos rice (28,000 VND/kg); Lao sticky rice (50,000 VND/kg); Lao fragrant rice (24,000 VND/kg). The period Vietnam imports rice from Laos is usually in the lunar November – December every year for consumption at the Lunar New Year. Meanwhile, Vietnam mainly exports white rice to for the processing of cakes and animal feed for the Lao market.

Some issues affecting the border trade situation

According to the report of the Cau Treo border gate, the security and general situation in the border gate area is still complicated. Criminal activity continues, especially drug crimes, illegal entry and exit. The situation of rural security and security of ethnic and religious areas is unstable. The weather is harsh, especially at the border gate, the rainy season has high humidity, and dense fog … so border management and supervision activities face many difficulties. The life of border residents remains difficult. Transport infrastructure near the border area is weak and limited, reducing the flow of goods transportation. Many enterprises look for other border gates in other provinces (such as Nghe An) with better infrastructure conditions to export to neighboring countries.