Regional Trade in Northwestern Laos: An Initial Assessment of the Economic Quadrangle

  • Andrew Walker


The Economic Quadrangle has become a popular motif in discussions of Southeast Asia’s northern borderlands. For its proponents in international development organizations, national governments, and regional chambers of commerce, the Quadrangle is an ambitious vision of liberalized economic integration across national borders and rugged terrain. Creation of transport linkages between the expanding economies of northern Thailand and southern China via the hinterlands of Myanmar and Laos is promoted as a sure path to regional development and prosperity. In the tawdry tourist stalls where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos meet on the Upper Mekong, Economic Quadrangle tee-shirts (four flags and a river of blue) are now sold alongside the opium memorabilia and Golden Triangle kitsch (three flags and a poppy) of an earlier socio-geometric era. A new frontier, we are told, is opening up: a deregulated Upper Mekong corridor, a new era for the borderlands.


Trading Volume Asian Development Trading Company Export Trade Transit Route 
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© Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore 2000

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  • Andrew Walker

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