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Strengthening Australia’s ties with Laos

During a visit to Vientiane to celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Laos, I announced new initiatives to deepen our cooperation to support a secure, prosperous and resilient region.

Australia will support a second phase of the Basic Education Quality and Access in Laos programme to help the Ministry of Education and Sports complete a national roll-out of the curriculum for the full five grades of primary education.

A stronger basic education system will help Laos develop a more skilled and productive workforce, which will equip the country to better resist challenges, escape poverty and contribute to stable economic growth.

As Minister for Women, as well as Minister for Foreign Affairs, I am pleased that this funding will support girls’ education. Quality education is critical to women and girls’ empowerment and social equality and provides critical support for national economic growth.

We will extend funding for the Laos-Australia Institute (LAI) – a partnership between our countries that has supported Laos’ economic and social development since 2014 – through a US$16 million investment to continue our support for the delivery of highly skilled professionals into the Lao labour market.

Australia is committed to supporting growth and sustainability across the Mekong as a whole.

Under the Mekong-Australia Partnership (MAP) – announced by Prime Minister Morrison at the 2020 ASEAN-Australia Summit – Australia will provide US$10 million to support the Lao Government’s public financial management reform efforts.

Building capacity in this area will equip decision-makers to make timely policy decisions that will impact Laos’ long-term prosperity.

Australia will also work in partnership with Laos to strengthen environmental resilience through MAP, providing more than US$15 million to support improved water resources management, and to strengthen food security and climate change resilience for communities.

As part of Australia’s commitment to quality infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific, we will also allocate at least US$10 million through Partnerships for Infrastructure as Laos improves domestic and regional transport connectivity.

This will include support to upgrade cross-border facilities at the Thai and Vietnamese ends of Laos’ National Road 2 – an important east-west route and one of ASEAN’s Initial Pipeline Projects.

Australia sees ASEAN at the heart of the Indo-Pacific – the US$154 million ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) underscores our strong commitment to ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo Pacific.

Australia will work closely with Laos as our ASEAN Country Coordinator to implement the ASEAN-Australia CSP.

This includes providing one hundred Australia for ASEAN scholarships to support emerging ASEAN leaders to study in fields that advance the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, including 10 for scholars from Laos.

Australia is also committed to supporting Laos as it prepares for its 2024 ASEAN Chair year – over the next two years, we will support placements by 24 emerging diplomats at Laos’ Permanent Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta, giving them invaluable skills and experience working at the regional level.

These investments build on Australia’s strong support for Laos’ health and economic recovery from COVID-19 – including through the delivery of over one million vaccines to Laos and our broader support for vaccine delivery and training for Ministry of Health staff.

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne

Source: Lao News Agency