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Laos Economy

Laos    Economy Top of Page
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 7% during 1988-97. Reform efforts subsequently slowed, and GDP growth dropped an average of 3 percentage points. Because Laos depends heavily on its trade with Thailand, it was damaged by the regional financial crisis beginning in 1997. Government mismanagement deepened the crisis, and from June 1997 to June 1999 the Lao kip lost 87% of its value. Laos' foreign exchange problems peaked in September 1999 when the kip fell from 3,500 kip to the dollar to 9,000 kip to the dollar in a matter of weeks. Now that the currency has stabilized, however, the government seems content to let the current situation persist, despite limited government revenue and foreign exchange reserves. A landlocked country with a primitive infrastructure, Laos has no railroads, a rudimentary road system, and limited external and internal telecommunications. Electricity is available in only a few urban areas. Subsistence agriculture accounts for half of GDP and provides 80% of total employment. For the foreseeable future the economy will continue to depend on aid from the IMF and other international sources; Japan is currently the largest bilateral aid donor; aid from the former USSR/Eastern Europe has been cut sharply.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $9 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,700 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture:  51%

industry:  22%

services:  27% (1999 est.)
Population below poverty line: 46.1% (1993 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%:  4.2%

highest 10%:  26.4% (1992)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 33% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 1 million - 1.5 million
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 80% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate: 5.7% (1997 est.)
Budget: revenues:  $211 million

expenditures:  $462 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY98/99 est.)
Industries: tin and gypsum mining, timber, electric power, agricultural processing, construction, garments, tourism
Industrial production growth rate: 7.5% (1999 est.)
Electricity - production: 792 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel:  2.78%

hydro:  97.22%

nuclear:  0%

other:  0% (1999)
Electricity - consumption: 173.6 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - exports: 705 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - imports: 142 million kWh (1999)
Agriculture - products: sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton; tea, peanuts, rice; water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
Exports: $323 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports - commodities: wood products, garments, electricity, coffee, tin
Exports - partners: Vietnam, Thailand, Germany, France, Belgium
Imports: $540 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel
Imports - partners: Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, China, Singapore, Hong Kong
Debt - external: $2.46 billion (1998 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: $345 million (1999 est.)
Currency: kip (LAK)
Currency code: LAK
Exchange rates: kips per US dollar - 7,578.00 (December 2000), 7,102.03 (1999), 3,298.33 (1998), 1,259.98 (1997), 921.02 (1996)
Fiscal year: 1 October - 30 September


Countryfacts Information Courtesy: CIA Worldbook

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