Laos Table of Contents
According to World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF-- see Glossary) estimates, merchandise exports grew from about US$40.0 million in 1982--the first year statistics were available-- to about US$64.3 million in 1987, when droughts and lower prices to Thailand--the only buyer--cut revenue from exports of hydroelectricity by 40 percent (see table 10, Appendix). As a result, the value of exports dropped to US$57.8 million by 1988 but recovered the following year and continued to expand, reaching US$77.9 million in 1991--an overall increase in exports of 95 percent from 1982 to 1991. Between 1982 and 1988--when they decreased by 10 percent--exports grew at an average annual rate of 6.8 percent; however, after trade reforms were enacted, the growth rate increased--to 10.7 percent between 1988 and 1991. Exports increased again in 1992 and 1993 to an estimated US$133 million (free on board) and US$203 million, respectively.
Principal exports are hydroelectricity and timber and wood products. In addition, much smaller quantities of coffee, gypsum, and tin concentrates are exported. The composition of major export commodities did not change throughout the 1980s; however, the relative importance of the commodities did. In 1987 lower export earnings from hydroelectricity precipitated a shift toward exports of forestry products. The value of hydroelectricity exports decreased from US$30 million in 1986 to US$12 million in 1987, while the value of timber and wood exports increased from US$8 million to US$33 million. Timber and wood products thus replaced hydroelectricity as the major export, and despite restrictions on logging and high export taxes implemented in 1989--which decreased its share of total exports by 36 percent-- timber and wood products remained the major export through 1992.
Data as of July 1994