Economy overview: The government of Laos (one of the few remaining countries officially considered communist) in 1986 announced the decentralization of government and the encouragement of private enterprise. The initial level of the economy was extremely low, so the results were amazing – in 1988-97. the average annual economic growth was 7%. Subsequently, the pace of reforms slowed down, and growth fell to 3%. Since the Lao economy is heavily dependent on trade with Thailand, it was hurt by the regional financial crisis that began in 1997. Poor government action exacerbated the crisis. From June 1997 to June 1999, the Lao kip lost 87% of its value; the peak of the crisis was reached in September 1999, when, after sharp fluctuations, the exchange rate fell within a few weeks from 3,500 kip to the dollar to 9,000 kip to the dollar. Now that the exchange rate has stabilized, the government seems content with the current situation, despite limited government revenues and small foreign exchange reserves. A landlocked country with a primitive infrastructure, Laos has no railway network, a rudimentary road system, and limited internal and external telecommunications. Electricity is available only in a few urban areas. The livelihood of the population comes from agriculture, which accounts for half of the GDP; it employs 80% of the workforce. For the foreseeable future, the Lao economy will continue to depend on the IMF and other international sources of assistance; currently Japan is the largest donor; See cheeroutdoor.com to know more about Laos Business.
GDP: at purchasing power parity – $9 billion (2000 est.).
Real GDP growth rate: 4% (2000 est.).
GDP per capita: at purchasing power parity – $1,700 (2000 est.).
The composition of GDP by sectors of the economy: agriculture: 51%; industry: 22%; services: 27% (1999 est.).
Proportion of population below the poverty line: 46.1% (1993 est.).
Percentage distribution of family income or consumption: per 10% of the poorest families: 4.2%; by the top 10% of families: 26.4% (1992).
Inflation rate at consumer prices: 33% (2000 est.).
Labor force: 1-1.5 million people
Employment structure: agriculture 80% (1997 est.).
Unemployment rate: 5.7% (1997 est.);
Budget: revenues: $211 million; expenditures: $462 million including capital expenditures – NA (FY98-99 est.).
Spheres of economy: mining of tin and gypsum, woodworking, power generation, processing of agricultural products, construction, production of garments, tourism.
Growth in industrial production: 7.5% (1999 est.).
Electricity generation: 792 million kWh (1999).
Sources of electricity generation: fossil fuels: 2.78%; hydropower: 97.22%; nuclear fuel: 0%; others: 0% (1999).
Electricity consumption: 173.6 million kWh (1999)
Electricity export: 705 million kWh (1999).
Electricity import: 142 million kWh (1999).
Agricultural products: sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugar cane, tobacco, cotton; tea, peanuts, rice; buffaloes, pigs, cattle, poultry.
Exports: $323 million (free on board, 2000 est.)
Exports: wood products, clothing, electricity, coffee, tin.
Export partners: Vietnam, Thailand, Germany, France, Belgium.
Imports: $540 million (free on board, 2000 est.)
Import articles: machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, fuel.
Import partners: Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, China, Singapore, Hong Kong.
External debt: $2.46 billion (1998 est.). Economic aid recipient: $345 million (1999 est.)
Economic aid donor:
Currency code: LAK.
Exchange rate: LAK/USD – 7,578.00 (December 2000), 7,102.03 (1999), 3,298.33 (1998), 1,259.98 (1997), 921.02 (1996).
Fiscal year: October 1-September 30.
Telecommunications Telephone lines: 25,000 (1997).
Mobile cellular phones: 4 915 (1997).
Telephone system: communication poor but improving; over 20,000 telephones are currently in operation, and another 48,000 are expected to be put into operation in 2001; the government hopes to develop a radiotelephone network for communication with remote areas; internal: radiotelephone communication; international: satellite ground stations – 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region).
Broadcast stations: AM -12, FM -1, shortwave – 4 (1998).
Radio receivers: 730,000 (1997).
Television broadcast stations: 4 (1999).
TVs: 52,000 (1997).
Internet country code: la
Internet Service Providers: 1 (2000).
Number of users: 2,000 (2000).
Transport Railways: 0 km.
Roads: total: 14,000 km; coated: 3,360 km; unpaved: 10,640 km (1991)
Waterways: about 4,587 km, mainly the Mekong and its tributaries; in addition, 2,897 km are navigable, depending on the season, for boats with a draft of less than 0.5 m.
Pipelines: for petroleum products – 136 km.
Ports and harbours: no.
Merchant fleet: total: 1 ship (displacement 1,000 tons or more) with a total displacement of 2,370 gross register tons / 3,000 long tons of gross tonnage; ships of different types: cargo ships – 1 (2000 est.).
Airports: 51 (2000 est.).
Airports with paved runways: total: 8; from 2438 to 3047 m:1; from 1,524 to 2,437 m: 5; from 914 to 1523 m: 2 (2000 est.).
Airports with unpaved runways: total: 43; from 1524 to 2437 m:1; from 914 to 1523 m:17; less than 914 m: 25 (2000 est.).
Arms of the armed forces: Lao People’s Army (LPA; including river fleet), Air Force, National Police.
Enlistment age: 18 years old.
Total Military Manpower: Male 15 to 49: 1,319,537 (2001 est.).
Eligible for military service: males aged 15 to 49: 710,627 (2001 est.).
Number of persons reaching military age each year: male: 64,437 (2001 est.).
Military spending in dollar terms: $55 million (1998)
Military spending as part of GDP: 4.2% (FY96-97)
International issues International disputes: part of the border with Thailand has not been determined.
Illicit drugs: world’s third largest illicit opium production (estimated 21,800 hectares cultivated in 1999, 16% more than in 1998; potential 1999 production 140 tons, about the same the same as in 1998); potential heroin producer; a transit point for heroin and methamphetamines produced in Myanmar; illegal cultivation of hemp.