Laos

THE COUNCIL AND LAOS

The US-ASEAN Business Council is committed to strengthening US-Laos relations. The Council remains supportive of the steps the Lao government is taking to meet the requirements of their WTO Membership. Through its strong relationships with the Lao Embassy in Washington and the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane, the Council informs members and key stakeholders of the latest opportunities and happenings in the U.S. – Lao bilateral relationship. In the 2011, the Council organized its first full Business Mission to Laos in recent memory. We look forward to continuing our engagement with the Lao government.

COUNTRY SUMMARY

Laos is a mountainous, landlocked country lying at the heart of Mekong River Basin. In the 19 th Century, Laos was a part of the French-Indochina. In 1975, the Communist Pathet Lao took control of the government, ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict socialist regime closely aligned to Vietnam.

Laos has followed a market-oriented reform since 1986 when the New Economic Mechanism was introduced. This has led to a gradual return to private enterprise, lifting of price controls, privatization of state-owned industries, establishment of commercial banks, and liberalization of foreign investment laws. Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997. Today, the country is facing numerous development challenges but is undertaking reforms that are helping to embark it on an increasingly sustainable development path. With strong economic performance and structural reforms in trade, private sector development, and public financial management, among others, Laos is also fighting poverty, addressing social inequities, and increasing its capacity to manage its rich natural resources.