Laos Economy 2007

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Economy - overview:
The government of Laos, one of the few remaining official 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 in 1988-2006 except during the short-lived drop caused by the Asian financial crisis beginning in 1997. Despite this high growth rate, Laos remains a country with a primitive infrastructure. It has no railroads, a rudimentary road system, and limited external and internal telecommunications, though the government is sponsoring major improvements in the road system with possible support from Japan. Electricity is available in only a few urban areas. Subsistence agriculture, dominated by rice, accounts for about half of GDP and provides 80% of total employment. The economy will continue to benefit from aid by the IMF and other international sources and from new foreign investment in hydropower and mining. Construction will be another strong economic driver, especially as hydroelectric dam and road projects gain steam. Several policy changes since 2004 may help spur growth. In late 2004, Laos gained Normal Trade Relations status with the US, allowing Laos-based producers to benefit from lower tariffs on exports. Laos is taking steps to join the World Trade Organization in the next few years; the resulting trade policy reforms will improve the business environment. On the fiscal side, a value-added tax (VAT) regime, slated to begin in 2008, will streamline the government's inefficient tax system.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$13.74 billion (2006 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$2.795 billion (2006 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:
8.3% (2006 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$2,200 (2006 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 42.7%
industry: 31%
services: 26.2% (2006 est.)

Labor force:
2.1 million (2006 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 80%
industry and services: 20% (2005 est.)

Unemployment rate:
2.4% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line:
30.7% (2005 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.4%
highest 10%: 28.5% (2002)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
34.6 (2002)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
6.8% (2006 est.)

revenues: $392.3 million
expenditures: $541.3 million (2006 est.)

Agriculture - products:
sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice; water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry

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

Industrial production growth rate:
15.7% (2006 est.)

Electricity - production:
1.715 billion kWh (2005)

Electricity - consumption:
1.193 billion kWh (2005)

Electricity - exports:
728 million kWh (2005)

Electricity - imports:
326 million kWh (2005)

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil - consumption:
3,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil - exports:
NA bbl/day

Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2005 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2005 est.)

Current account balance:
$-149 million (2006 est.)

$655 million (2006 est.)

Exports - commodities:
garments, wood products, coffee, electricity, tin

Exports - partners:
Thailand 41%, Vietnam 9.7%, China 4.1%, Malaysia 4% (2006)

$922 million f.o.b. (2006 est.)

Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods

Imports - partners:
Thailand 68.8%, China 11.3%, Vietnam 5.5% (2006)

Economic aid - recipient:
$379 million (2006 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$334.3 million (2006 est.)

Debt - external:
$3.179 billion (2006)

Currency (code):
kip (LAK)

Exchange rates:
kips per US dollar - 10,235 (2006), 10,820 (2005), 10,585.5 (2004), 10,569 (2003), 10,056.3 (2002)

Fiscal year:
1 October - 30 September

NOTE: The information regarding Laos on this page is re-published from the 2007 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Laos Economy 2007 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Laos Economy 2007 should be addressed to the CIA.

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This page was last modified 29-Sep-09
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