Flags Laos

Lao People’s Democratic Republic Country Profile

Recommendations:

The Lao Government has embraced foreign investment following years of relative economic isolation that left it one of the least developed countries in Asia. Laos remains a difficult operating environment, but companies appreciate its GDP growth and low-cost manufacturing opportunities.  **Good for risk tolerant manufactures looking for long term potential**

(+) High GDP growth over the past decade
(+) Low cost of labor and cost of living
(+) High prospects for future economic growth when planned railroad lines provide access to foreign ports

(-) Complex regulatory climate with high corruption despite government efforts to attract investors
(-) Poorly educated and mainly rural labor
(-) High costs to move products to ports

Highlights:

Special Economic Zones ( SEZs ) offer low tax, low cost areas for manufacturing and distribution
Easy land access to China, Vietnam, and Thailand
Consistently strong GDP growth, new infrastructure, and concerted efforts by the Lao government to improve the climate for foreign investors
Rising tourist numbers, especially to Luang Prabang

“Interested in doing business in Laos, one of the fastest growing economies in ASEAN? Let me personally welcome you, and assure you that for Americans and American companies there has never been a better time to explore business opportunities in Laos.”

U.S. Ambassador Rena Bitter

Country Facts:

Population:

7.06 million, 1.5% growth in 2019

GDP:

$18.17 billion USD, 4.7 % growth

GNI per capita:

$2,460 USD, 0.7% Inflation, lower middle-income country

Industries:

3.8 million tourists per year, growing at 15%

Tourism:

Tourism, mining, textile manufacturing, agriculture (especially rice), timber, hydropower

Investment:

Foreign investment remains challenging, but the Lao government is committed to moving the economy away from resource exploitation to more inclusive economic growth.

#154/190

#130/180

45%

4.6 M

$3.3K USD

Poor

Very inexpensive

Ease of Doing Business

Corruption Perceptions Index

Human Capital Index

Working Age Population

Household Expenditure Per Capita

English Language Capabilities

Cost of Living Plus Rent Index

#154/190

#130/180

45%

4.6 M

$3.3K USD

Poor

Very inexpensive

Marketing:

Per capita expenditure:

$3,337 USD

Internet penetration:

39 % (Southeast Asia 63%)

Shop online:

37.1%

Mobile ownership:

81%

Primary messaging:

WhatsApp

Primary website:

Facebook

Average Labor:

Infrastructure:

Opening a Business:

Relevant Laws:

Law on Investment Promotion of 2016

Time to Incorporate:

60 days to incorporate in a non sensitive sector

Remittance Taxes:

Business taxes range from 5% (education, health care, and innovation) to 20% (most industries), with 35% for mining

Restrictions:

Multiple restrictions, including laws requiring government involvement in business “sensitive to national security, public order, national fine tradition, and socio-environmental impact.” Foreigners can lease but now own land. Foreign currencies are officially banned for domestic transactions.

Trends:

The Lao government has worked for over a decade to make the climate more favorable for foreign investors, and it is likely to get easier in future years.

BBA Services:

BBA can help your business navigate the complex Lao regulatory, political, and cultural environment. Although BBA has no resident staff in Laos, members of the BBA team have lived and worked in the Lao capital of Vientiane, speak the Lao language, and have many local connections.