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Laos


    • Overview:
      The government of Laos - one of the few remaining official Communist states - has been decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise since 1986. The results, starting from an extremely low base, have been striking - growth has averaged 7.5% annually since 1988. Even so, Laos is a landlocked country with a primitive infrastructure. It has no railroads, a rudimentary road system, and limited external and internal telecommunications. Electricity is available in only a few urban areas. Subsistence agriculture accounts for half of GDP and provides 80% of total employment. The predominant crop is rice. In non-drought years, Laos is self-sufficient overall in food, but each year flood, pests, and localized drought cause shortages in various parts of the country. For the foreseeable future the economy will continue to depend on aid from the IMF and other international sources; aid from the former USSR and Eastern Europe has been cut sharply. As in many developing countries, deforestation and soil erosion will hamper efforts to maintain the high rate of GDP growth.

    • National product:
      GDP - purchasing power parity - $4 billion (1994 est.)

    • National product real growth rate:
      8.4% (1994 est.)

    • National product per capita:
      $850 (1994 est.)

    • Inflation rate (consumer prices):
      6.5% (1994 est.)

    • Unemployment rate:
      21% (1992 est.)

    • Budget:

        revenues:
        $NA

        expenditures:
        $NA

    • Exports:
      $277 million (f.o.b., 1994 est.)

        commodities:
        electricity, wood products, coffee, tin, garments

        partners:
        Thailand 57%, Germany 10%, France 10%, Japan 5% (1991)

    • Imports:
      $528 million (c.i.f., 1994 est.)

        commodities:
        food, fuel oil, consumer goods, manufactures

        partners:
        Thailand 55%, Japan 16%, China 8%, Italy 4% (1991)

    • External debt:
      $NA

    • Industrial production:
      growth rate 7.5% (1992 est.); accounts for 18% of GDP (1992 est.)

    • Electricity:

        capacity:
        260,000 kW

        production:
        870 million kWh

        consumption per capita:
        44 kWh (1993)

    • Industries:
      tin and gypsum mining, timber, electric power, agricultural processing, construction

    • Agriculture:
      principal crops - rice (80% of cultivated land), sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, cotton; livestock - buffaloes, hogs, cattle, poultry

    • Illicit drugs:
      illicit producer of cannabis, opium poppy for the international drug trade, fourth largest opium producer (85 metric tons in 1994); heroin producer; increasingly used as transshipment point for heroin produced in Burma

    • Economic aid:

        recipient:
        US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-79), $276 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $605 million; Communist countries (1970-89), $995 million; international assistance in loans and grant aid (1993/94) $217.7 million

    • Currency:
      1 new kip (NK) = 100 at

    • Exchange rates:
      new kips (NK) per US$1 - 717 (1994 est.), 720 (July 1993). 710 (May 1992), 710 (December 1991), 700 (September 1990), 576 (1989)

    • Fiscal year:
      1 October - 30 September






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