Turkish Embassy in Laos helps develop multilateral relations with ASEAN countries, says Turkish Ambassador to Vientiane.

The Turkish Embassy in Laos has taken relations between Turkey and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to a new level, said the Turkish envoy.

“The establishment of the Turkish Embassy in Laos has not only developed bilateral relations but also multilateral relations with the ASEAN countries,” Ahmet Idem Akay, Turkey’s ambassador in Vientiane, said in an interview with Anadolu Agency.

Noting that Turkey has diplomatic representations in all 10 member countries of ASEAN after the Turkish Embassy in Vientiane was opened in 2017, Akay said: “Turkey also attaches importance to developing institutional relations with regional organisations.”

ASEAN was formed in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand in Bangkok and was later joined by five other countries. Turkey was granted the status of Sectoral Dialogue Partner in 2017.

“Bilateral trade volume [between Turkey and Laos] increased from $6 million in 2017 to $15 million last year,” the ambassador said, adding that bilateral trade volume is in favour of Turkey with around $1.5 million.

Turkey exports poultry meat, edible offal and 10 seater minibuses to Laos while importing textile, rubber inner tubes and phone devices, he added.

Akay also noted that the increase in trade volume between the two countries display the importance of the establishment of the Embassy in Vientiane.

Turning Point

“In July 2018, there was a severe flood which led to many deaths and casualties. Turkey through AFAD [Disaster and Emergency Management Authority] provided $25,000 to the Lao government under the United Nations Development Program,” Akay said, adding that a hovercraft — an emergency response vehicle which can travel over land or water – was purchased with the aid provided by Turkey.

Akay highlighted that Laos, a land-locked country, plans to turn into a land-linked nation via Lao-Chinese railway, which will eventually expand all the way to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore under China-led One Belt One Road Initiative.

Referring to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s official visit to Laos in 2018 which was Turkey’s first visit to the country at foreign minister level, the ambassador said: “It was a highly successful and fruitful visit.”

“Now, we hope Laos will open a diplomatic mission in Turkey in the near future,” Akay said, adding that Turkish citizens will be issued visa on arrival at the airport Laos.

According to the UN, Laos listed as one of the least developed countries in 2018.

However, the GDP growth of Laos averaged 7.8 percent over the last decade, according to the World Bank.