Overview of business in Laos

Overview of business in Laos

A landlocked country between China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar, Laos is enjoying a renewed economic development thanks to its strategic position between strong neighbors and new projects for hydro-electricity.

Map of Laos
Map of Laos
  • Official country name: Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  • Capital: Vientiane
  • Total Area: 237,955 km²
  • Government: Unitary Marxist–Leninist one-party Communist republic
  • Currency: Kip – LAK
  • Drives on the: right
  • Calling Code: +856
  • Internet TLD: .la


  • Population: 6,492,228 (2015 census)
  • Population Density: 26.7/km²
  • Official Languages: Lao
  • HDI: 0.586 (medium)
  • Ethnic Groups: (2005)
    • 55% Lao
    • 11% Khmu
    • 8% Hmong
    • 26% others

Taxes in Laos

Aiming at helping local businesses and foreign companies, the Lao government has set an attractive tax system.

Key economic data of Laos

Emblem of Laos
Emblem of Laos
  • GDP (PPP): USD 41 Billion (2016 Estimate)
  • GDP per Capita (PPP): USD 5,718
  • GDP (Nominal): USD 14 Billion (2016 Estimate)
  • GDP per Capita (Nominal): USD 1,921
  • GDP Growth: 6.8% (2016 Estimate)
  • GDP by sector: (2011 Estimate)
    • agriculture: 37.4%
    • industry: 20.2%
    • services: 42.6%
  • Labor force: 3.7 Million (2010 Estimate)
  • Labor force by occupation: (2010 Estimate)
    • agriculture 75.1%
    • industry n/a
    • services n/a
  • Unemployment: 2.5% (2009 Estimate)
  • Inflation: 7.6% (2011 Estimate)

Main industries of Laos

Laos heavily relies upon its natural resources and hydroelectricity for its economy. Its renewed economic dynamism in industry also pushes the construction industry. The tourism industry is also benefiting from a new interest in the Lao culture and its UNESCO World Heritage sites.

  • copper
  • tin
  • gold and gypsum mining
  • timber
  • electric power
  • agricultural processing
  • construction
  • garments
  • cement
  • tourism

Laos digital

The improving infrastructures and spread of mobile phones have helped Laotians to access the Internet and digital services.

Digital in Laos 2018
Numbers of Internet, social media and mobile users in Laos in 2018

Laos trade data

With low trade volumes, Laos aims at more trade through the development of industry and improved exploitation of natural resources.

Exports: USD 2.13 Billion (2011 Estimate)

Export Goods:

  • wood products
  • garments
  • electricity
  • coffee
  • tin
  • copper
  • gold

Main Export Partners: (2012 Estimate)

  • Thailand 32.8%
  • China 20.7%
  • Vietnam 14.0%

Imports: USD 2.336 Billion (2011 Estimate)

Import Goods:

  • machinery and equipment
  • vehicles
  • fuel
  • consumer goods

Main Import Partners: (2012 Estimate)

  • Thailand 63.2%
  • China 16.5%
  • Vietnam 5.6%

Latest business resources for Laos

Laos: 4 infographics on population, wealth, economy

Laos infographics

Though Laos is one of the smallest countries of ASEAN in demographic and economic terms, it is nevertheless a fast-developing country with important natural resources. This series of infographics illustrates key demographic and economic data of Laos, together with comparisons with other ASEAN and world-leading countries. Continue reading

The 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Laos [photos]

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Laos

Blended in the country’s tranquil tropical charm and original architectural styles, the Laotian culture is represented in the World Heritage Sites of the UNESCO through two sites of historic value, the remains around the Hindu temple of Vat Phou as well as the entire town of Luang Prabang, the old capital of Laos. Continue reading

Guide to taxes in Laos [brackets-incentives]

Taxes in Lao PDR

Taxes in Laos are among the lowest in the region: a low corporate income tax, a low progressive income tax and a low VAT make the country attractive for business. The Lao taxation system is quite simple and straightforward to encourage investment in the country and help develop its burgeoning economy. Continue reading

Energy for ASEAN’s less developed countries

Dam to produce hydroelectricity on the Mekong river

The access to reliable and affordable sources of energy plays a critical role in the economic development of any country. A report presented the challenges of Myanmar and Laos to manage their energetic resources and develop their economy in relation with their Southeast Asian neighbors. Continue reading

Official Lao PDR trade portal

Laos trade portal

Engaged into the long-term development of Laos and integration in the global economy, the Lao government is committed to developing trade. It has therefore created an online trade portal, available in English, to help businesses and people in their trading operations in and out of Laos. Continue reading

12 free maps of ASEAN countries

Free maps of ASEAN countries

Some maps might come in handy to illustrate your point in your website or blogs, so here is a collection of some free maps available around the web for South East Asia and each of the 10 ASEAN countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Continue reading

Laos flag