China's Yunnan province and regional governments from northern Vietnam have begun laying the groundwork for a cross border economic corridor, designed to strengthen trade, investment and transport links, the China Daily reported. Leaders from Yunnan and the Vietnamese provinces and cities of Hanoi, Hai Phong, Quang Ninh and Lao Cai agreed to work together to promote bilateral trade via the Lao Cai-Hekou border crossing, improving local facilities for financial transactions and exchange, easing the passage of foreign vehicles into their respective territories, and improving road and rail links in the area to boost capacity. The leaders also agreed to examine the possibilities for using Vietnam's Haiphong port as a facility for importing and exporting goods to and from Yunnan. Last year bilateral trade between Yunnan and Vietnam rose 36% to US$220 million. It is forecast to reach US$300 million this year and US$500 million in 2005.