Laos is a single-party socialist republic and joined ASEAN in July 1997. The economy has performed well in the past few years. This is mainly due to the ongoing projects in mining and hydroelectric power, as well as increases in garment exports, international tourism and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

The country is a landlocked nation situated between Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Its thickly forested landscape consists mostly of rugged mountains. It is rich in mineral resources but imports petroleum and gas.

Country Information
  • Head of State: President Bounnhang Vorachith
  • Capital city: Vientiane
  • Total population: 7.169 million
  • Languages: Lao, French, English, various ethnic languages
  • Religions: Buddhist 67%, Satsana Phi 30.1%, Christian 1.5%, Other 1.4%
  • Monetary unit: Kip (LAK)
  • Natural resources: Timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones
  • Major exports: Wood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper, gold, cassava
  • Major imports: Machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods

Metallurgy is an important industry and the government hopes to attract foreign investment to develop substantial deposits of coal, gold, bauxite, tin, copper, and other valuable metals. In addition, the country’s plentiful water resources and mountainous terrain enable it to produce and export large quantities of hydroelectric energy. It is increasingly providing electricity to neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam and the economy is accelerating rapidly with the demands for its metals.

The re-opening of the British Embassy in Vientiane in 2012 is a welcome development that will help UK companies to identify and pursue potential opportunities in Laos.

The Laos economy receives development aid from the IMF, ADB and other international sources and foreign direct investment for the development of hydropower and mining (most notably copper and gold).

Opportunities in the mining sector exist for UK companies to provide equipment for copper and gold mines, from diggers to sophisticated software and mining technology. There are also potential opportunities in the education sector, as the development of this sector has been identified as critical to Laos’ future success and education provision remains basic.

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