Foreword by Mr. Guy Apovy

O

ur goal in compiling this investment guide is to deliver a comprehensive overview for those considering a move into the market – offering an understanding of the Lao identity in cultural as well as in business terms.

The Lao PDR, or Laos, is populated by roughly 6.5 million inhabitants and has shown robust growth of an average 7% per annum over the past ten years. The economy has proven remarkably resilient against international economic and financial crises. Since beginning its move towards a market-oriented economy in 1986, Laos has attracted a growing number of investors, especially in the mining, hydropower, tourism and garment sectors: foreign direct investment rose from US$25 million in 2002 to almost $3 billion in 2011.

This 'landlinked' country has been pursuing a steady path of integration into the world economy, marked by its admission to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 1997, and most recently by its accession to the World Trade organisation in early 2013. The accession process has helped pave the way for attaining the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and for graduating from Least Developed Country status by 2020.

We believe that Laos offers plenty of investment opportunities, in sectors that have traditionally been strong contributors to the country’s growth as well as in niche sectors that have not been developed (or maybe even discovered) yet. The IMF estimates that GDP grew by 7.3 % in 2015, and sees Laos as one of the ten fastest growing economies in the world.

While the country’s regulatory framework may prove challenging at times, we hope to deliver an insightful investment guide to accompany investment decision-making throughout the process, from first consideration of the Lao PDR all the way to drawing up a business plan for market-entry.

As change is a constant in the Lao business environment, we look forward to engaging with you in open dialogue and encourage you to share your experience with us along the way.

Sincerely,

Guy Apovy
President of the European Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Lao PDR

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