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Laos Main Page

 

  Economy

Laos' economy depends on several things for it's survival - agriculture, handicrafts, fishing and on a small scale manufactured clothing.  It is a poor country that depends on outside sources such as Japan, France, Sweden and Australia to make come to it's aid.  The overwhelming majority of laborers are in the agricultural field, while laborers in the service industry come in at a distant second.

One of Laos' major exports is that of timber, with most of them exported as logs and not processed.  The only crop that can be considered a substantial export is coffee.  Since the late 1980's tourism has been encouraged, although there isn't a boom of tourism, the numbers were rapidly increasing up through the late 1990's.

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. Despite this high growth rate, Laos remains a country with an underdeveloped infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. It has a rudimentary, but improving, road system, and limited external and internal telecommunications. Electricity is available in urban areas and in many rural districts. Subsistence agriculture, dominated by rice cultivation in lowland areas, accounts for about 30% of GDP and provides 80% of total employment. The government in FY08/09 received $560 million from international donors. Economic growth has reduced official poverty rates from 46% in 1992 to 26% in 2009. The economy has benefited from high foreign investment in hydropower, mining, and construction. Laos gained Normal Trade Relations status with the US in 2004, and is taking steps required to join the World Trade Organization, such as reforming import licensing. Related trade policy reforms will improve the business environment. On the fiscal side, Laos launched an effort to ensure the collection of taxes in 2009 as the global economic slowdown reduced revenues from mining projects. Simplified investment procedures and expanded bank credits for small farmers and small entrepreneurs will improve Lao's economic prospects. The government appears committed to raising the country's profile among investors. The World Bank has declared that Laos's goal of graduating from the UN Development Program's list of least-developed countries by 2020 is achievable. According Laotian officials, the 7th Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2011-15 will outline efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goals.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$15.42 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
$14.41 billion (2009 est.)
$13.53 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$6.341 billion (2010 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
7% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24
6.5% (2009 est.)
7.2% (2008 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$2,400 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 180
$2,300 (2009 est.)
$2,200 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 29.8%
industry: 31.7%
services: 38.5% (2010 est.)
Labor force:
3.65 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 80%
industry and services: 20% (2009 est.)
Unemployment rate:
2.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 21
2.4% (2005 est.)
Population below poverty line:
26% (2009 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)
country comparison to the world: 88
37 (1997)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
6.2% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
0% (2009 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
4.3% (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 108
4% (31 December 2009)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
26% (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 83
11% (30 November 2009)
Stock of narrow money:
$630 million (31 December 2010 est)
country comparison to the world: 150
$691.1 million (31 December 2009)
Stock of broad money:
$1.818 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 144
$1.549 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Stock of domestic credit:
$1.562 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134
$1.095 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Agriculture - products:
sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice; water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
Industries:
copper, tin, gold, and gypsum mining; timber, electric power, agricultural processing, construction, garments, cement, tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
12% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9
Electricity - production:
1.656 billion kWh (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137
Electricity - consumption:
1.798 billion kWh (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137
Electricity - exports:
230 million kWh (2009 est.)
Electricity - imports:
819.5 million kWh (2009 est.)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157
Oil - consumption:
3,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179
Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 187
Oil - imports:
3,080 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168
Oil - proved reserves:
NA bbl (1 January 2010 est.)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 156
Current account balance:
-$23 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 64
-$356 million (2009 est.)
Exports:
$1.215 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
$1.104 billion (2009 est.)
Exports - commodities:
wood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper, gold
Exports - partners:
Thailand 29.18%, China 15.04%, Vietnam 14.96%, UK 4.29% (2009)
Imports:
$1.504 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161
$1.308 billion (2009 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods
Imports - partners:
Thailand 66.2%, China 11.45%, Vietnam 5.3% (2009)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$756 million (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
$712.4 million (31 December 2009 est.)
Debt - external:
$3.085 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126
$3.179 billion (2006 est.)
Exchange rates:
kips (LAK) per US dollar - 8,320.27 (2010), 8,516.04 (2009), 8,760.69 (2008), 9,658 (2007), 10,235 (2006)

 

 


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