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Laos Economy Profile 2018

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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 in the period 1988-2008, and Laos' growth has more recently been amongst the fastest in Asia, averaging more than 7% per year for most of the last decade.

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 20% 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)$49.21 billion (2017 est.)
$46.03 billion (2016 est.)
$43.01 billion (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$17.15 billion (2016 est.)
GDP - real growth rate6.9% (2017 est.)
7% (2016 est.)
7.3% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$7,400 (2017 est.)
$7,000 (2016 est.)
$6,600 (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
Gross national saving18% of GDP (2017 est.)
14.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
14.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 62.6%
government consumption: 13.4%
investment in fixed capital: 36%
investment in inventories: 3.1%
exports of goods and services: 35.7%
imports of goods and services: -50.8% (2017 est.)
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 20.9%
industry: 33.2%
services: 39.1% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line22% (2013 est.)
Labor force3.582 million (2017 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 73.1%
industry: 6.1%
services: 20.6% (2012 est.)
Unemployment rate1.5% (2016 est.)
1.5% (2016 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: $3.144 billion
expenditures: $4.098 billion (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues18.3% of GDP (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-5.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
Public debt67.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
65.6% of GDP (2015 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)2.3% (2017 est.)
2% (2016 est.)
Central bank discount rate4.3% (31 December 2010)
4% (31 December 2009)
Commercial bank prime lending rate18.5% (31 December 2017 est.)
18% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money$1.303 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.243 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money$9.193 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$8.197 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$9.52 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$8.381 billion (31 December 2016 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% (2017 est.)
Current Account Balance-$1.653 billion (2017 est.)
-$1.678 billion (2016 est.)
Exports$2.881 billion (2017 est.)
$2.705 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commoditieswood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper, gold, cassava
Exports - partnersThailand 40.1%, China 28.5%, Vietnam 13.7% (2016)
Imports$5.852 billion (2017 est.)
$5.547 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmachinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods
Imports - partnersThailand 64.6%, China 16.5%, Vietnam 9.4% (2016)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$989.8 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$940.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Debt - external$13.64 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$12.9 billion (31 December 2016 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 -
8,231.1 (2017 est.)
8,129.1 (2016 est.)
8,129.1 (2015 est.)
8,147.9 (2014 est.)
8,049 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year1 October - 30 September

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on January 20, 2018

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