Cassava Leads Lao Exports in January 2024 Amid Trade Deficit

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Cassava emerged as the leading export product in the initial month of this year,  according to reports from Lao government sources. Continuing a trend observed in 2023, Laos faced a trade deficit surpassing USD 188 million in January this year.

The latest statistics reveal that the value of exports reached USD 561 million, while imports surged to USD 749 million during the first month of 2024. Cassava led the way in terms of exports, with a value of USD 94 million. Other top exported products include gold ore and gold bullion, each at USD 44 million, paper and paper products at USD 39 million, and rubber at USD 32 million.

While the trade deficit remains a concern, it is essential to note that the report does not factor in the value of electricity trade

China emerged as the primary export destination for Lao products, with trade amounting to approximately USD 198 million. Thailand and Vietnam followed closely behind at around USD 134 million and USD 129 million, respectively. 

On the import front, diesel was the most imported product, accounting for USD 95 million. Chemical products, mechanical equipment, land vehicles, and electrical appliances also made substantial contributions to the import figures.

Among the top import sources for Laos, Thailand led the way, with imports worth USD 309 million. China followed closely behind at USD 298 million, with Vietnam, the United States, and Japan also featuring prominently in the report.

Despite the strong export performance, Laos continues to face severe economic challenges exacerbated by rising inflation rates. In February, inflation surged to 25.35 percent, marking an increase from January’s 24.44 percent.

This pressure has led to price hikes in basic necessities, particularly evident in the recent announcement of the rise in the cost of drinking water in Vientiane Capital. Meanwhile, Lao residents are also confronted with a significant challenge as companies in the country are slow to adjust employees’ salaries to cope with the rising costs of living.