16 May 2023
Australia’s Foreign Minister, Penny Wong travelled to Vientiane, Laos. The visit from 15-16 May, followed the successful visit to Australia by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith in October last year.
The visit built on Australia’s deep and enduring friendship with Laos of over 70 years and provided an opportunity for Minister Wong to listen and understand Laos’ national priorities for trade and investment, development cooperation and regional connectivity. Minister Wong’s time in Laos reflects the commitment made between our Prime Ministers last November when they announced an intention to elevate the Laos-Australia relationship to a Comprehensive Partnership.
Minister Wong held productive discussions with Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith, and Head of the External Relations Committee of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Thongsavanh Phomvihane.
FM Wong met with H.E Sonexay Siphandone, Prime Minister of Lao PDR
FM Wong met with H.E Saleumxay Kommasith, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs
FM Wong met with H.E Thongsavanh Phomvihane, Head of the External Relations Committee of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party
Discussions acknowledged the considerable changes underway in the region and navigating these changes together, including through ASEAN. Australia and Laos shared views on priorities for cooperation in education, growing human resource capacity, the energy sector, water resource management, and people-to-people links.
The visit confirmed Australia’s commitment to deepening our economic engagement with the region, including through the development of a Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040, to be released later this year.
Australia and Laos will lift cooperation in the energy sector. Minister Wong and Laos’ Minister of Energy and Mines, H.E Mr Phosay Sayasone, signed the Laos-Australia Sustainable Energy Partnership which will work to support a more sustainable, reliable and profitable energy sector in Laos.
To advance shared priorities for the environment and sustainability, Australia will partner with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Global Green Growth Institute to establish a national framework for participation in international carbon markets.
Our friendship is grounded in mutual respect and trust, forged through many years of close relations and longstanding people-to-people links. Minister Wong and His Excellency Thongsavanh signed a Declaration of Shared Intent to establish a Laos-Australia Friendship Association to enhance dialogue, understanding and people-to-people connections between Australia and the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.
Australia and Laos will work together on shared goals with our regional partners, for example, through trilateral cooperation with Vietnam. Australia is pleased to be working with Laos and Vietnam on initiatives to share experiences on attracting high-quality foreign direct investment
The Minister met emerging Lao business leaders from Australia’s university alumni network to discuss ways to build Laos’ future together. Australia’s alumni make an enormous contribution in Laos, including Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith. We are proud of this shared history and pleased we can continue to strengthen these people-to-people connections.
FM Wong met with emerging Lao business leaders from Australia’s university alumni network.
Australia’s support for Laos’ education sector was on display during the visit to a primary school in Vientiane. Minister Wong met with Laos’ Vice Minister of Education and Sports, Dr Sisouk Vongvichit and the school community. Australia’s support for the implementation of the new National Curriculum nationwide will help raise the education levels of Laos’ future workforce.
FM Wong observed and engaged with students in science class
The Minister was pleased to announce further support for COVID-19 vaccine and routine immunisation, including at the sub-national level through a partnership with the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization, building on the $25.2 million provided to date.
Minister Wong reiterated Australia’s commitment to support Laos to deliver a successful ASEAN Chair in 2024. Laos has an important role to play in Southeast Asia’s future and Australia is committed to working together to build a safe, stable, and prosperous region where ASEAN and ASEAN-led institutions hold the centre.