High-speed Laos-China Railway to expedite exports: January 6: Although Laos in 2021 earned more than US$900 million from agricultural exports -- more than 80 percent of which China buys -- the number was 18 percent off-target, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment. The government is keen to boost agriculture, thereby to resolve financial difficulties and reduce import reliance. Fruits and vegetables are priority sales to China. Bananas brought in most -- US$225 million. Rubber exports fetched US$214 million; cassava US$196 million; sugarcane US$25 million; and watermelons US$26 million. The foregoing are also Laos' biggest agricultural exports to China. A major disappointment in 2021 involved animal sales, which fell short of quotas owing to lumpy skin disease -- now cleared up, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health. Laos is talking with China about animal and plant health regulations, and expects that, with those issues sorted out and pandemic restrictions eased, construction of the Laos-China railway will clear the way for export growth. Sources: Phnom Penh Post and Xinhua. See also related news on January 20 about the first 1,000 tonne shipment of Thai rice delivered using the Laos-China railway, published by the Bangkok Post.