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Has Thanh Thuy border gate been “forgotten”?

Though it was Government’s policy to upgrade Thanh Thuy Border Gate (Thanh Chuong District, Nghe An) to a national border gate since 2011, 10 years have passed, this place is becoming ruined and quiet. And this border gate seems to be “forgotten”, wasting a rare trading and economic development potential of Nghe An province.

A 10-year plan still... On paper

Thanh Thuy border gate - a road border gate in Khe Mu village, Thanh Thuy commune, Thanh Chuong district, Nghe An province is conveniently located just 60km from Vinh city, and only 80km away from Cua Lo port and southeast Nghe An economic zone. This is a border gate along a single road to Nam On Border Gate, Bolykhamxay province, Laos.

To expand and promote economic trade, the Prime Minister has agreed since 2011 to upgrade Thanh Thuy Border Gate in Thanh Chuong district, Nghe An province into a national border gate with the goal of turning this place into a busy multiaspecting area. Moreover, in the previous years, a “road map” for the development of this region has also been outlined in a fairly specific way, but has not been implemented so far.

By 2013, Nghe An Provincial People’s Committee approved the planning of Thanh Thuy Border Gate with a total area of 21.97ha to build functional areas at the border gate.

However, when the competent authority recently proposed the 18th Nghe An Provincial People’s Council to comment on the abolition of the project of establishing Thanh Thuy border gate economic zone as the project implementation time had expired (Decision No. Decision 305/2009/NQ-HDND dated December 23, 2009), and the second meeting from August 12th to 13th, 2021 has attracted public attention.

The abolition of the project to build Thanh Thuy border gate area into an economic zone means that the matter of socio-economic development direction in this area, directly Thanh Chuong district will have to be closed. As such, many lands - originally forestry areas, poor forests, etc., having been converted and planned to build factories, enterprises as well as related services that investors have spent much time and money for “a leapfrog”, now have to stop.

Many unfinished construction items came into a “standstill” when the investment in technical infrastructure, the “carpeting policy” of Nghe An was only on discussion, paperwork...

Hundreds of hectares of land planned for the construction of service areas, warehouses, logistics... which had been “immovable” is now almost “disillusioned”. Many investors have accepted the policy that leasing land in prime locations for many years cannot move forward once official export and exchange routes between Vietnam and Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar at Thanh Thuy National Border Gate was stopped.

Four years ago, Nghe An also made a final report to the Government to ask for the upgrade of Thanh Thuy Border Gate into an international border gate and planning the establishment of an economic zone associated with the border gate to level up the economic belts between Vietnam and Laos in the future. However, the planning is still in a state of “suspension” that lasts till now.

Looking for a solution?

Since 2018, when the planning of the Hanoi - Vientiane Expressway had been agreed to by the Governments of the two countries, the planning of Thanh Thuy border gate into a border gate economic zone was considered the driving force of the region’s development.

And at meetings with Nghe An province when he was still in the position of Prime Minister, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc emphasized that Nghe An should develop Thanh Thuy border gate equivalent to its potential and important trading opportunities with Laos, Thailand and Myanmar to take advantage of the opportunities that the Vientiane - Pac Xan - Thanh Thuy - Hanoi highway will create once completed.

It is known that when approving and agreeing to upgrade Thanh Thuy National Border Gate, all businesses in the land opposite Thanh Thuy Border Gate will enjoy the “Generalized System of Preferences” (GSP) as prescribed. At the same time, many items such as textiles, agricultural products of Laos are not subject to quotas when exported to European market, and many other attractive incentives are available.

However, a series of infrastructure plans have fallen into a state of “clinical death” for nearly a decade. The picture of socio-economic development in Thanh Thuy border gate area has not been completed until now. “We are the pioneer investors to apply for policies and procedures to build a commercial area here for nearly 10 years now.

As the technical infrastructure and mechanism have not been concretized, businesses are facing a lot of difficulties. Therefore, the Government, Ministries and Organs should pay attention to the development Thanh Thuy border gate area to a nationwide level and the region...” - a representative of investors hence suggested.

Experts once assessed that Thanh Thuy border gate has a meaning far beyond, associated with methods to actualize the economic development of the region, to create a development motivation for Nghe An province, for Vietnam and connecting the East - West economic corridor of 4 countries Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.

In which, the most important factor is Resolution No. 26/NQ-TW dated July 30, 2013 of the Politburo on direction and tasks for the development of Nghe An province to 2020 which set out the task to develop Nghe An Province to 2020 with the goal to upgrade Thanh Thuy national border gate into an international border gate to become an important trading hub with Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.

This is also the basis of the cooperation agreement between the two Governments of Vietnam and Laos on the implementation of the Vientiane - Paksan - Thanh Thuy - Hanoi expressway and it also opens up new opportunities for development in this region.

However, the desolate scene of Thanh Thuy Border Gate has upset many investors and the local people. And, in order to develop socio-economical area is becoming a real problem that needs quick solution from functional sectors.

At the national online conference on economic development of border areas on August 16, 2021, Nghe An Provincial People’s Committee asked the Government to direct Ministries and Organs to speed up the implementation of the expressway project Vientiane - Paksan - Thanh Thuy - Hanoi to facilitate trading, socio-economic development between the two countries Vietnam - Laos and create a premise to form Thanh Thuy border gate economic zone. Discussing with the Laos government to soon announce the Nam On border gate to become the main border gate, creating favorable conditions to promote import and export activities.

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