Laos Suffers Trade Deficit of USD 137m in 2019

Laos updates trade regulations

Laos recorded a trade deficit of USD 137 million in 2019, although the country exported more than its yearly plan.

The value of exports last year stood at USD 5.603 billion, exceeding the goal of USD 5.516 billion. However, imports were recorded at only USD 5.74 billion, falling behind the goal of USD 5.775 billion, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Electricity, copper ore, copper and accessories made of copper, wood pulp, camera parts, beverages, rubber, livestock, cassava, mixed gold and gold bars, clothing, bananas, electrical machinery and equipment, fruit and nuts are among the country’s main exports.

The main destinations for exports are Thailand, China, Vietnam, India, Japan, Germany, the United States, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium and Britain.

In particular, electricity continues to be Laos’ major revenue-generating export. The country has increased its electricity exports by 145 percent over the past five years amid a growing number of hydropower plants.

The country expanded its electricity capacity to 6,457 MW for export markets between 2016 and 2020. Accordingly, the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines earned more than LAK 130 billion (USD 14 million), up 35 percent compared to 2011-2015.

The country currently has 63 operational hydropower plants with an installed capacity of 7,213 MW. These plants can produce 37,035 kWh of electricity a year.

Laos is looking to add an additional 37 hydropower plants and the majority of these are expected to be completed between 2020 and 2021. Laos currently exports electricity to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, with Thailand being the largest importer of energy.

Meanwhile, the main imports include fuel, vehicles other than tractors and motorcycles, iron and steel products, mechanical appliances, insulated wire, cable, electrical machinery and equipment, plastics, bars and steel rods and formed structural steel sections, vehicle parts, and communications equipment.

These items mainly come from Thailand, China, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

Exports in 2020 are expected to reach USD 6.422 billion and imports USD 6.615 billion, Xinhua said, quoting a report by the planning and investment sector, which held a meeting in Lao capital Vientiane on February 10.