LAOS

 

 

Modern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, established in the 14th century under King FA NGUM. For 300 years Lan Xang had influence reaching into present-day Cambodia and Thailand, as well as over all of what is now Laos.

After centuries of gradual decline, Laos came under the domination of Siam (Thailand) from the late 18th century until the late 19th century when it became part of French Indochina. The Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1907 defined the current Lao border with Thailand. In 1975, the communist Pathet Lao took control of the government ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict socialist regime closely aligned to Vietnam.

A gradual, limited return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1988. Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997 and the WTO in 2013.

 

Laos map

 

Capital: Vientiane

Area: 236,800 km2 (water: 6,000 km2)

Population: 6,911,544 (July 2015 est.)

Currency: Lao Kip (LAK)

Languages: Lao (official), French, English

The government of Laos, one of the few remaining one-party communist states, began decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise in 1986. The results, starting from an extremely low base, were striking – growth averaged 6% per year from 1988-2008 except during the short-lived drop caused by the Asian financial crisis that began in 1997. Laos’ growth exceeded 7% per year during 2008-13. Despite this high growth rate, Laos remains a country with an underdeveloped infrastructure, particularly in rural areas.

It has a basic, but improving, road system, and limited external and internal land-line telecommunications. Electricity is available in 83 % of the country. Laos’ economy is heavily dependent on capital-intensive natural resource exports. The labor force, however, still relies on agriculture, dominated by rice cultivation in lowland areas, which accounts for about 25% of GDP and 73% of total employment. Economic growth has reduced official poverty rates from 46% in 1992 to 26% in 2010. The economy also has benefited from high-profile foreign direct investment in hydropower, copper and gold mining, logging, and construction though some projects in these industries have drawn criticism for their environmental impacts.

Laos gained Normal Trade Relations status with the US in 2004 and applied for Generalized System of Preferences trade benefits in 2013 after being admitted to the World Trade Organization earlier in the year. Laos is in the process of implementing a value-added tax system. Simplified investment procedures and expanded bank credits for small farmers and small entrepreneurs will improve Laos’ economic prospects. The government appears committed to raising the country’s profile among investors, but suffered through a fiscal crisis in 2013 brought about by public sector wage increases, fiscal mismanagement, and revenue shortfalls. The World Bank has declared that Laos’ goal of graduating from the UN Development Program’s list of least-developed countries by 2020 is achievable, and the country is preparing to enter the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.


GDP (purchasing power parity):

$20.78 billion (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 132

$19.18 billion (2012 est.)

$17.78 billion (2011 est.)

note: data are in 2013 US dollars


GDP (official exchange rate):

$10.1 billion (2013 est.)


GDP – real growth rate:

8.3% (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 9

7.9% (2012 est.)

8% (2011 est.)


GDP – per capita (PPP):

$3,100 (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 177

$2,900 (2012 est.)

$2,700 (2011 est.)

note: data are in 2013 US dollars


Gross national saving:

27.4% of GDP (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 37

26.2% of GDP (2012 est.)

25.2% of GDP (2011 est.)


GDP – composition, by end use:

household consumption: 66.9%

government consumption: 9.8%

investment in fixed capital: 31.7%

investment in inventories: -1.3%

exports of goods and services: 40%

imports of goods and services: -48.4%

(2013 est.)


GDP – composition, by sector of origin:

agriculture: 24.8%

industry: 32%

services: 37.5% (2013 est.)


Agriculture – products:

sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice; cassava (manioc), water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry


Industries:

mining (copper, tin, gold, and gypsum); timber, electric power, agricultural processing, rubber, construction, garments, cement, tourism


Industrial production growth rate:

11% (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 12


Labor force:

3.373 million (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 100


Labor force – by occupation:

agriculture: 75.1%

industry and services: NA (2010 est.)


Unemployment rate:

2.5% (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 19

2.4% (2005 est.)


Population below poverty line:

26% (2010 est.)


Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 3.3%

highest 10%: 30.3% (2008)


Distribution of family income – Gini index:

36.7 (2008)

country comparison to the world: 83

34.6 (2002)


Budget:

revenues: $2.481 billion

expenditures: $2.642 billion (2013 est.)


Taxes and other revenues:

24.6% of GDP (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 135


Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):

-1.6% of GDP (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 73


Public debt:

46.3% of GDP (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 78

49.1% of GDP (2012 est.)


Fiscal year:

1 October – 30 September


Inflation rate (consumer prices):

6.5% (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 181

4.3% (2012 est.)


Central bank discount rate:

4.3% (31 December 2010)

country comparison to the world: 95

4% (31 December 2009)


Commercial bank prime lending rate:

23.2% (31 December 2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 14

22.3% (31 December 2012 est.)


Stock of narrow money:

$1.389 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 142

$1.154 billion (31 December 2012 est.)


Stock of broad money:

$4.071 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 135

$3.673 billion (31 December 2012 est.)


Stock of domestic credit:

$4.716 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 116

$4.034 billion (31 December 2012 est.)


Current account balance:

-$484.3 million (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 98

-$315.5 million (2012 est.)


Exports:

$2.313 billion (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 140

$1.984 billion (2012 est.)


Exports – commodities:

wood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper, gold, cassava


Exports – partners:

Thailand 34%, China 21.5%, Vietnam 12.2% (2012)


Imports:

$3.238 billion (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 145

$2.744 billion (2012 est.)


Imports – commodities:

machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods


Imports – partners:

Thailand 62.1%, China 16.2%, Vietnam 7.3% (2012)


Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$845.4 million (31 December 2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 141

$796.9 million (31 December 2012 est.)


Debt – external:

$6.69 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 112

$6.288 billion (31 December 2012 est.)


Exchange rates:

kips (LAK) per US dollar –

7,875.9 (2013 est.)

8,007.3 (2012 est.)

8,258.8 (2010 est.)

8,516.04 (2009)

8,760.69 (2008)

BANKING


Lao Development Bank Head Office

013 Soupanouvong Road
Ban Sihom, Chanthabouly District Tel: (+856 21) 213300-04
Fax: (+856 21) 213304, 222506
SWIFT: LDBBLALA
Email: ldbhovte@ldblao.com
Website: http://www.ldb.org.la