Laos Exceeds Agricultural Export Target, Trade Deficit Remains

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Containers on the first banana train heading to China via the Lao-China Railway. (Photo: Kaikeo Saiyasane)

Over the past year, Laos earned an estimated USD 1.4 billion from agricultural exports, exceeding targets set by the government by 20.18 percent.

According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Thongphat Vongmany, the value of production in agriculture and forestry in Laos grew by 3.4 percent in 2023.

In total, 9.74 million tons of crops were harvested, with yields from potatoes, coffee, and bananas rising by 28.6 percent, 7.5 percent, and 16.7 percent, respectively.

Among rare metal earths such as gold bars and mixed gold, agriculture is one of Laos’ main exports, accounting for 21.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2023.

The government has also continued to negotiate trade agreements on agricultural products and is now able to export 64 types of products, increasing from 48 in 2022. Of these 33 types of products, 30 are plants and crops—including raw fruits and vegetables, powdered cassava, and other types—and 3 are animal products.

Currently, China is Laos’ biggest trading partner, with the value of all exports exceeding USD 200 million in December 2023. Vietnam and Thailand follow suit, with the value of exports reaching USD 118.2 million and USD 88.2 million, respectively.

Although the overall trade exceeded USD 1 billion in December 2023, Laos recorded its eighth consecutive month of trade deficit. Last month, the small landlocked nation recorded the value of imports at 703 million, while exports only amounted to 531 million.