The Turkish Embassy in Laos, which was opened last year, has already taken relations between Turkey and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to a new level.
"The establishment of the Turkish Embassy in Laos has not only developed bilateral relations but also multilateral relations with the ASEAN countries," Ahmet İdem Akay, Turkey's ambassador in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Noting that Turkey has diplomatic representation in all 10 member countries of ASEAN after the Turkish Embassy in Vientiane was opened in 2018, Akay said, "Turkey also attaches importance to developing institutional relations with regional organizations."
ASEAN was formed in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand in Bangkok and was later joined by five other countries. Turkey was granted the status of Sectoral Dialogue Partner in 2017.
"Bilateral trade volume (between Turkey and Laos) increased from $6 million in 2017 to $15 million last year," the ambassador said, adding that the bilateral trade volume is in favor of Turkey with around $1.5 million.
Turkey exports poultry meat, edible offal and 10+ seater minibuses to Laos while importing textile, rubber inner tubes and phone devices, he added.
Akay also noted that the increase in trade volume between the two countries display the importance of the establishment of the Embassy in Vientiane.
"In July 2018, there was a severe flood which led to many deaths and casualties. Turkey, through AFAD [Disaster and Emergency Management Authority], provided $25,000 to the Laotian government under the United Nations Development Program [UNDP]," Akay said, adding that a hovercraft, an emergency response vehicle which can travel over land or water was purchased with the aid provided by Turkey.
Akay highlighted that Laos, a landlocked country, plans to turn into a land-linked nation via the Lao-Chinese railway, which will eventually expand all the way to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore under China-led "One Belt, One Road" initiative.
Referring to Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu's official visit to Laos in 2018 which was Turkey's first visit to the country at the foreign minister level, the ambassador said, "It was a highly successful and fruitful visit."
"Now, we hope Laos will open a diplomatic mission in Turkey in the near future," Akay said, adding that Turkish citizens will be issued visas on arrival at the airport in Laos.
According to the U.N., Laos listed as one of the least developed countries in 2018.
However, the gross domestic product growth of Laos averaged 7.8 percent over the last decade, according to the World Bank.
Throughout the world, Turkey has 236 diplomatic missions including 135 embassies, 13 permanent representations to international organizations, 86 consulate generals, one consular agency and one trade office.