Development cooperation

First visit of a Lao Prime Minister

It was a première at the Federal Chancellery: Thongloun Sisoulith was the first Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to visit Germany. Talks at the Federal Chancellery explored development and economic policy issues, as well as regional cooperation matters.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Lao Prime Minister walk along the red carpet as the Prime Minister is welcomed with military honours.

Deepening and consolidating relations - Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith in Berlin

Photo: Bundesregierung

Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the exceptional nature of the visit – it was the first time a Lao Prime Minister had visited Germany, although the two countries have maintained diplomatic relations for 60 years. The Chancellor and the Prime Minister had already met, at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in July 2016 in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator.

Numerous economic reforms

The focus of the meeting between Angela Merkel and the Prime Minister was development cooperation. "We are interested in seeing the Lao People’s Democratic Republic move away from being a low income country to become a middle income country," said Angela Merkel. In recent years the country has chalked up impressive growth rates of around seven per cent. With its development cooperation, she said, Germany aims above all to help "achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030, while promoting rural areas and power generation". 

The Chancellor quoted the example of the swift assistance provided last year to help the country resolve dam problems. "We welcome the fact that the Lao People’s Democratic Republic has implemented a number of economic reforms that can help improve the standard of living of the people and enhance educational opportunities and living conditions, particularly for people living in rural areas."

Civil society involvement

The Chancellor encouraged her visitor to continue to pursue the country’s economic modernisation drive. She advocated involving civil society to a greater extent in political, economic and social life, in order to reinforce this process. There is still more potential for developing economic relations, stressed the Chancellor. "We have agreed that the development banks will cooperate, i.e. the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), possibly along with the Volks- und Raiffeisenbank in Germany and the Lao Development Bank for rural areas."

Support for the Mekong River Commission 

The Chancellor pledged continued support for the Mekong River Commission. "The river is of enormous strategic importance, and we will thus continue to consolidate this dialogue."

Within the scope of the European Union human rights dialogue, human rights were also addressed. Angela Merkel thanked the Prime Minister for his support at international level, including support for Germany’s application for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

During the latest government negotiations on development cooperation in September 2018, the German government pledged the Lao People’s Democratic Republic total new funding of 50 million euros for 2018 and 2019. Priority areas of cooperation are rural development and sustainable economic development. The German government is also implementing measures in the fields of good governance and the rule of law.