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Kunming-Bangkok highway to boost trade links

Source:   Time:

BEIJING - The Kunming-Bangkok Highway has every prospect of becoming a "golden channel" connecting China and Southeast Asia with annual trade increasing by hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years, said an official in the capital of southwestern China's Yunnan province.

Talking about the 1,807-km road, Zhu Xiaoyang, director-general of the port office of Yunnan province, sees a promising future.

"The road has its problems, but they can be solved," said Zhu, who is also deputy director-general of the province's Department of Commerce.

Running from Kunming, through Laos to Bangkok, the road is the shortest of the four major links between China and Southeast Asia.

The road runs for 688 km in China, 229 km in Laos, and 890 km in Thailand.

It is yet to reach its ultimate goals including transporting goods worth more than $400 billion, carrying millions of tourists and shortening the travel time between Kunming and Bangkok to 20 hours.

But the road, which was opened in March 2008, could eventually become a "golden channel" connecting China and Southeast Asia, Zhu said.

Statistics show that the trade volume at Mohan Port, where the road enters Laos from China, reached $513 million in the first 11 months of 2010, about four times the figure in 2007.

Traveling by road from Kunming to Bangkok currently takes three days, including taking a ferryboat linking Laos and Thailand, where a bridge is still under construction, according to Zhu.

The Houayxay Bridge linking Thailand and Laos, which was designed by Chinese experts and constructed by Thailand, is expected to be completed in 2012, said Zhu, who led an inspection tour of the road by government officials and businesspeople in 2009.

A similar delegation is setting out later this year, Zhu said, noting that further efforts are required by all three nations to improve the quality of the road.

In China, a 70 km-long section will be upgraded to an expressway this year, which could help cut the travel time by an hour, said Zhu.

Zhu also said it is crucial that the Thai government quickly approves agreements that allow all three nations' vehicles to travel the entire journey and more Thai goods to be exported to China.

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