Laos’ combined exports and imports for this year are struggling to achieve the target after figures for the first four months of the year reached only 22.7 per cent of the plan for 2019, the National Assembly (NA) reported.
“The NA approved a total of US$11,291 million as the trade target for 2019 but in the first four months the value of trade amounted to US$2,573 million,” Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith said when addressing the opening session opening of the National Assembly yesterday.
The figure for imports was around US$1,217 million or 21 percent of the NA approved US$5,775 million target, he said.
The main imported products were petroleum (aviation fuel, diesel and gasoline), vehicles and vehicle parts, electrical appliances, machinery and mechanical equipment, and construction materials.
Exports reached US$1,356 million or 24.5 percent of the NA approved US$5,516 million target, with the main export products being electricity, ore, copper, cassava, clothes and electrical equipment, Mr Thongloun said.
Imports mostly came from Thailand, China, Vietnam, Japan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Germany, India and the USA, with exports bound for China, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Japan, Germany, the USA, Sweden and Switzerland.
The total combined value of imports and exports in 2018 touched US$11,258 million, an increase of 16 percent compared to 2017.
Imports reached US$5,410 million, an increase of 21 percent, and exports hit US$5.848 billion, an increase of 10.9 percent compared to 2017.
The country faced a trade deficit with more goods imported than exported, especially construction materials, fuel, vehicles and other items. This resulted in a trade deficit of US$437 million last year.
Small businesses still produce most products with local operators often having limited experience in exporting.
However, the data shows that exports to Thailand and China are expected to increase this year, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
Last year, exports to Thailand rose to US$2,537 million with this year expecting to earn US$2,544 million. Exports to China reached US$1,406 million last year with US$1,510 million targeted this year.
Meanwhile, exports to Vietnam are expected to drop from US$885 million last year to about US$757 million in 2019.