Laos Records Bumper Trade Surplus in 1st Quarter

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A freight train arrives in China.
A freight train arrives in China from Laos.

Laos recorded a trade surplus in the first three months of this year, despite the continued depreciation of the Lao kip amid increased production and consumable costs.

The country recorded a trade surplus of USD 41 million in January, while February saw a surplus of USD 48 million. Meanwhile, Laos recorded yet another trade surplus in March of USD 100 million, according to the Lao Trade Portal.

This has made for a trade surplus of some USD 189 million in the first quarter of 2022.

Major exports included gold ore and gold bars, paper and paper products, wood pulp and waste paper, rubber, cassava, iron ore, bananas, garments, electrical appliances and equipment, fertilizers, camera parts, and footwear.

Meanwhile, the country’s primary imports include fuels, automobiles, mechanical equipment, spare parts, steel products, pharmaceuticals, plastic products, electrical appliances, food products, and photographic equipment.

China, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, and India are Laos’ top export destinations, while the country imports mainly from Thailand, China, Vietnam, Switzerland, and the United States.

The Lao government has said it is hoping for a trade surplus of at least USD 1.55 billion in 2022, despite the economic challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

To achieve this, the government has committed to increasing agricultural production and processing of items for export, particularly to China, whose markets can now be accessed more readily via the China-Laos railway.

The government has been attempting to build up foreign currency reserves by boosting exports and reducing its reliance on imports.

The country reported a surprising USD 1 billion trade surplus in 2021, with exports valued at USD 7 billion and imports worth USD 6 billion.