Laos to boost economic growth amid COVID-19 pandemic

October 21, 2020

The Lao government sectors have been urged to further stimulate economic growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic slump, which have taken a heavy toll on Laos' economy.

This was one of the main aspects of a resolution approved at the 11th Session of the 10th Party Central Committee which wrapped up in Lao capital Vientiane on Friday.

According to the office of the Party Central Committee, the Lao government should ramp up commercial production so that more goods are produced for domestic consumption and export.

Although Laos remains free of any severe health impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the effect on the economy, particularly on the tourism industry, has been widespread, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Monday.

Prior to the pandemic, tourism was growing significantly. International visitor arrivals rose by 14.4 percent, reaching a peak of 4.7 million in 2019 and generating income of about 934 million U.S. dollars, according to the Asian Development Bank.

In June, the government predicted that Laos would suffer huge losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the economy expected to grow by only 3.3-3.6 percent.

The pandemic has devastated tourism, investments and exports, which are key sources of foreign exchange for Laos.

However, a number of mega development projects continue to make progress as planned. Construction of the China-Laos railway is currently more than 90 percent complete and is on track for full completion in 2021.

Construction of the Vientiane-Vangvieng Expressway is also 90 percent complete and will open for public use in December 2020.

Other mega projects relating to mining, special economic zones and tourism have also seen significant progress.

In the meantime, the authorities are still struggling to regulate food prices because many products are imported and must be purchased with currencies whose exchange rates are fluctuating.