VN asks Laos to review impacts of hydropower dam

VietNamNet Bridge – Viet Nam has urged Laos to continue its research on the environmental impacts of the planned Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River.

Concerns over the proposed dam has also led to Viet Nam asking Laos to perfect the designs for the dam.

Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Luong Thanh Nghi made the statement at a regular press briefing in Ha Noi yesterday, Nov 8, when answering a question about Viet Nam's stance on the construction of Xayaburi dam in Laos.

Nghi added that he hoped Laos will work with Viet Nam, Cambodia and Thailand in conducting careful and comprehensive research on the cumulative impacts on the environment, economics and society of all hydro-power plants expected to be built on the Mekong River.

He added that Viet Nam expressed its viewpoint on taking the general management and sustainable development of the river into consideration while building hydro-power plants on the Mekong River at its discussions with Laos and International Mekong River Commission member countries.

The fair and reasonable exploitation and use of natural resources, especially water from the Mekong River, is of significance, and it is important to ensure the sustainable development of the Mekong River basin for the common benefits of riverside countries and locals living in the area, said Nghi.

In another announcement, Nghi said that Viet Nam and China presented and exchanged views on priority projects of co-operation in marine environmental protection, marine research, search and rescue missions, and natural disaster prevention at the second round of negotiations on less sensitive fields at sea in Ha Noi from November 6-8.

The negotiations were in accordance with the common perceptions of high-ranking Vietnamese and Chinese leaders stipulated in the Viet Nam – China agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of maritime issues signed on October 11, 2011, said Nghi.

The two sides agreed to assign expert teams to conduct research and contribute preliminary opinions on these priority projects which are scheduled for further discussions at the next round of negotiations in early 2013.

Responding to a reporter's question on whether Viet Nam would raise the East Sea issue during the 21st ASEAN Summit and related meetings, Nghi said leaders of the ASEAN member countries would discuss various issues including those related to the maintenance of regional peace, stability and security during those events.

He underscored that together with other member countries, Viet Nam, as an active and responsible member of ASEAN, would strive to maintain and consolidate the association's spirit and operational principles, and at the same time exert efforts to further strengthen the central role of the bloc for peace, stability, security, co-operation and development in the region as well as the world at large.

Nghi also responded to another question that in light of Viet Nam's high ratio of trade turnover with China, did the country want to increase trade with other countries by expanding negotiations for free trade agreements (FTAs).

He replied saying that Viet Nam hoped to integrate extensively and comprehensively with the world, focusing on international economic integration.

He said that Viet Nam had already signed FTAs with many partners including ASEAN as a whole, and joined the association's FTAs with Japan, the Republic of Korea (RoK), China, India, New Zealand and Australia.

Viet Nam had also reached a FTA with Chile and an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with Japan. It was also negotiating FTAs with many other partners such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Russia-Kazakhstan-Belarus Customs Alliance, the European Union, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA which includes Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland), and the RoK.

Nghi highlighted that strengthening trade ties with other countries was a core basis that had helped the country implement its socio-economic development strategy up until 2012.