Early estimates for the Mengla Economic Zone along the border of Yunnan province and Laos place the cost of the initiative’s 240 yet-unnamed projects at about RMB200 billion (US$31.4 billion), East by Southeast reported, citing state media. The projects will reportedly focus on agriculture, education, logistics, processing, tourism and transportation–the latter of which is key to national planners hoping to integrate Yunnan’s economy more closely with those of neighboring Southeast Asian countries. Yet progress has been slow, with the main trunk line of a rail network in the region initially planned to open in 2015 having been pushed back at least five years due to financial disagreements between China, Laos and Thailand.
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