Country Listing

Laos Table of Contents



General Character: Predominantly rural and agricultural; market-oriented economic liberalization measures beginning in 1986 stimulated economic growth. Policy reforms continue, including decentralizing and expanding private-sector economy; reversing agricultural collectivization policy and ending cooperatives; introducing foreign investment code; and restructuring banking system. Agriculture accounts for almost 56 percent gross domestic product (GDP) and approximately 85-90 percent of workforce (1993 estimate). 1989 unemployment estimate 21 percent.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP): Estimates vary. US$989 million, US$295 income per capita (1993 estimate); from $US295 to US$335 per capita (1994 estimate); real growth rate from 4.5 percent to 5.9 percent. Composition of GDP agriculture and forestry, approximately 56 percent; industry including construction, approximately 17 percent; services, approximately 25 percent; and import duties, 2 percent (1993 estimate). GDP growth targeted at 7 percent for fiscal year (FY) 1993-94. US$4.1 billion purchasing power equivalent (1993 estimate).

Industry: Almost no industrial production outside Vientiane area.

Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing: Rice main crop; corn, tobacco, coffee also grown.

Resources: Tin and gypsum most important mineral resources although exploitation on a small scale; electrical energy from hydroelectric power; electricity exported to Thailand.

Foreign Trade: Total exports US$133 million--free on board (f.o.b.) (1993 estimate); primarily to France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam, and United States. Principal exports timber and wood products US$42 million; textiles and garments, US$27 million; assembled motorcycles and other items, US$20 million; electricity, US$16 million (1993 estimate). Total imports US$266 million--cost, insurance, and freight (c.i.f) (1992 estimate); primarily from China, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam; increased by approximately 20.5 percent in 1993. Principal imports petroleum, food, vehicles, machinery, consumer goods. US$353.2 million total (1993 estimate).

Balance of Payments: Record trade deficit of estimated US$150 million in 1993. Foreign debt US$1.1 billion (1992 estimate).

Foreign Aid: Approximately US$167 million in 1992. Almost totally dependent on foreign assistance for development and financing deficit on current account balance. Major foreign aid partners formerly communist countries, particularly Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) members until 1990; since then, Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, and multilateral agencies, primarily the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

Currency and Exchange Rate: Kip. In 1992 exchange rate averaged US$1=K705; in June 1994, estimated average US$1=K721.

Fiscal Year: October 1 to September 30.

Data as of July 1994