Central Economic Corridor


The Central Corridor runs south from the PRC border to Vientiane, and then splits into an eastern arm running south into Cambodia and a western arm into Thailand. The section north of Vientiane is not a major trade corridor, due to the limited bilateral trade between the Lao PDR and PRC. The main trade corridor is the western arm. Indications are that a high percentage of trade is done between Bangkok and Vientiane, including external trade, as importers prefer to use Bangkok Port as a gateway rather than Laem Chabang, or use the Lat Krabang inland clearance (container) depot (ICD). The reason for this is not clear, but may be a combination of factors where much of the traffic originates in the Bangkok Metropolitan area and the availability of lower transport rates. Thus, the primary trade route is probably Vientiane–Nakhon Ratchasima–Bangkok.

On this corridor, the main issues relate to the Nong Khai–Thanaleng (Vientiane) crossing. Under the Cross-Border Transport Agreement (CBTA), Thailand’s vehicles can enter Lao PDR, although there is a difference in axle load limits. Trucks from Thailand cross the border and undergo preliminary checks before being allowed to deliver directly, following border clearance, although most have to proceed to the nearby Thanaleng customs-controlled warehouses, which act as an ICD. The goods are either unloaded for clearance and later delivered by Lao PDR trucks or are cleared there for delivery and return to Thailand empty. The road connection is good, but the parallel rail connection is only used for passenger traffic. There appears to a major problem with congestion on the Lao PDR side of the border resulting in significant congestion and the use of nonstandard border controls. This problem needs to be addressed.

The eastern arm has low levels of trade mainly because trade between Cambodia and the Lao PDR is minimal. This arm only becomes a significant trade corridor south of Phnom Penh with the connection through to Sihanoukville. Unfortunately, this port is only served by feeder vessels and, therefore, is facing increased competition from the Southern Corridor. Forwarders are indicating that from Phnom Penh it is cheaper to use the Saigon port than Sihanoukville.