The new coronavirus (Covid-19) has already affected the Lao economy, despite no cases of the disease having been confirmed in the country, a senior government official has said.
The sector affected the most is tourism, followed by investment and trade, said Acting President of the National Institute for Economic Research, Dr. Leeber Leebouapa, as quoted by Vientiane Times.
The paper quoted leading the economic researcher in the country as saying that revenue from tourism has dropped dramatically after flights were canceled and the number of tourists visiting Laos began to quickly decline.
Lao Airlines halted its flights to South Korea from March amid massive cancellations from passengers over coronavirus concerns, while several South Korean budget airlines also canceled flights between Laos and South Korea starting until end-March.
Lao Airlines also suspended almost all flights to China last month.
Meanwhile, Laos is also suffering issues in its investment, business and trade sectors with the suspension of business projects as well as holdups in the shipments of some goods.
The country may experience sluggish economic growth in 2020, with growth this year expected to drop from the predicted 6.7 percent to 6 percent, Dr. Leeber said.
Dr. Leeber said the government had expected the growth rate to be 6.7 percent, or 0.3 percent higher than last year but it will be impossible to meet this target because several sectors have clearly been affected by the outbreak.
The economic recession will be the slowest in five years, according to Dr. Leeber, who suggested the most important thing at this stage is protecting Laos from an outbreak.