Despite all the effort the Lao government is putting forth, the country continues to record a trade deficit for the seventh month in a row, the eighth month of the year.
According to the Lao Trade Portal, Laos recorded a total trade amount of USD 985 million, consisting of USD 625 million in imports and USD 361 million in exports, leaving a trade deficit of approximately USD 264 million.
Rare earth metals such as gold bars and mixed gold topped the export charts in October, with an estimated value of USD 61 million. Among others, banana and sugar also emerged in the top ten exports, valued at around USD 16 million and USD 14 million, respectively.
Following last month’s trend, Diesel led the way for Laos’ import numbers, valued at around USD 83 million. Other notable imports include vehicles and motorbikes, paper and paper products, and petrol valued at USD 56 million, USD 20 million, and USD 19 million.
China remains one of Laos’ biggest exporters, accounting for USD 154 million of exports. Vietnam follows behind at around USD 71 million, along with Thailand, Australia, and Switzerland.
Neighboring Thailand takes the top spot for Laos’ imports, with the value estimated to be approximately USD 273 million. China followed closely behind at USD 224 million, whereas ASEAN counterpart Vietnam took a steep drop down to USD 23 million. The United States and Switzerland close off the top five countries.
However, the total trade numbers don’t include the value of imported and exported electricity, as the data has not yet been released.
Laos’ economic growth has been hindered by weaker growth prospects in China, macroeconomic pressures arising from unsustainable public debt, and a weak local currency. Following suit, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has lowered the growth forecast for Laos in 2023 to 3.7 percent from an earlier 4 percent projection.