Laos has registered a trade surplus of US$178 million in the first nine months (as of the end of the third quarter) of the year, although money transfers are below target.
The value of Laos’ combined exports and imports in the third quarter of 2019 reached US$8,582 million or 76 percent of the figure approved by the National Assembly.
There was an increase of 41 percent compared to the same period last year, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Sonexay Siphandone, informed the National Assembly last week.
The value of exports hit US$4,380 million or 79.4 percent of the plan and is expected to rise to US$5,516 million. Imports were valued at US$4,202 million but are likely to reach US$5,775 million, Dr Sonexay said.
Despite the trade surplus, the transfer of money for exports was not on target after the government signed contracts with investors, he added.
However, some goods that were imported and then shipped back don’t require payment.
The industrial processing and handicraft sectors achieved 8,968 billion kip or 73.5 percent of the target figure. Compared to the same period last year this was an increase of 19.8 percent and is likely to reach 12,306 billion kip or 99 percent of the 12,386 billion kip figure set by the National Assembly, Dr Sonexay said.
Income from industrial processing and handicrafts decreased as some cement factories had to stop operations due to higher investments and some plants were affected by floods. This is likely to show up as decreased production.
Electricity generation, a primary export, was affected by the prolonged dry season. About 23,641 million kWh was generated worth more than 11,600 billion kip or 70 percent of the 33,875 billion kip approved by the National Assembly. This was down by 5.17 percent compared to the same period last year.
The government expects that electricity exports will shoot up this year with some new plants starting commercial operations.
The export value of minerals was 8,080 billion kip or 68 percent of the target figure and is expected to drop further.