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Laos Economy Profile 2017

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Economy - overviewThe government of Laos, one of the few remaining one-party communist states, began decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise in 1986. Economic growth averaged more than 6% per year from 1988-2008, and Laos' growth has more recently been amongst the fastest in Asia, averaging nearly 8% per year for most of the last decade, but has declined over the past year and is expected to be around 6.8% in 2017, according to the IMF.

Nevertheless, 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 to 83% of the population. Agriculture, dominated by rice cultivation in lowland areas, accounts for about 25% of GDP and 73% of total employment. Recently, the country has faced a persistent current account deficit, falling foreign currency reserves, and growing public debt, as slow recovery of the global economy, especially that of China, has driven down the prices of its mineral exports.

Laos' economy is heavily dependent on capital-intensive natural resource exports. The economy has benefited from high-profile foreign direct investment in hydropower dams along the Mekong River, copper and gold mining, logging, and construction, although 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 held the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2016. Laos is in the process of implementing a value-added tax system. The government appears committed to raising the country's profile among foreign investors and has developed special economic zones replete with generous tax incentives, but a limited labor pool, a small domestic market, and corruption remain impediments to investment. Laos also has ongoing problems with the business environment, including onerous registration requirements, a gap between legislation and implementation, and unclear or conflicting regulations.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$40.96 billion (2016 est.)
$38.11 billion (2015 est.)
$35.43 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$13.76 billion (2016 est.)
GDP - real growth rate7.5% (2016 est.)
7.6% (2015 est.)
7.5% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$5,700 (2016 est.)
$5,400 (2015 est.)
$5,100 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving25% of GDP (2016 est.)
20% of GDP (2015 est.)
25.8% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 62.6%
government consumption: 14.1%
investment in fixed capital: 33.1%
investment in inventories: 1%
exports of goods and services: 47.2%
imports of goods and services: -58% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 21.3%
industry: 32.5%
services: 39.4% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty line22% (2013 est.)
Labor force3.5 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 73.1%
industry: 6.1%
services: 20.6% (2012 est.)
Unemployment rate1.3% (2012 est.)
1.4% (2014 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 3.3%
highest 10%: 30.3% (2008)
Distribution of family income - Gini index36.7 (2008)
34.6 (2002)
Budgetrevenues: $2.882 billion
expenditures: $3.822 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues20.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-6.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt61.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
61.7% of GDP (2015 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)0.7% (2016 est.)
1.3% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rate4.3% (31 December 2010)
4% (31 December 2009)
Commercial bank prime lending rate16.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
18.2% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$1.161 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.132 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$7.782 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.196 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$8.135 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.231 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$1.012 billion (2012 est.)
$576.8 million (2011 est.)
Agriculture - productssweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice; cassava (manioc, tapioca), water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
Industriesmining (copper, tin, gold, gypsum); timber, electric power, agricultural processing, rubber, construction, garments, cement, tourism
Industrial production growth rate8% (2016 est.)
Current Account Balance-$2.35 billion (2016 est.)
-$2.114 billion (2015 est.)
Exports$3.075 billion (2016 est.)
$2.928 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditieswood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper, gold, cassava
Exports - partnersThailand 30.4%, China 26.9%, Vietnam 17.5% (2015)
Imports$3.936 billion (2016 est.)
$4.058 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmachinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods
Imports - partnersThailand 60.9%, China 18.6%, Vietnam 7.3% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$1.024 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.058 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$11.98 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$10.77 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$15.14 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$12.44 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Exchange rateskips (LAK) per US dollar -
8,190.2 (2016 est.)
8,147.9 (2015 est.)
8,147.9 (2014 est.)
8,049 (2013 est.)
8,007.3 (2012 est.)
Fiscal year1 October - 30 September

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on July 9, 2017

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