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Lao Macroeconomic Growth Projected At 6.3 Percent In 2020

Source: Vientiane Times

Macroeconomic growth is projected to improve moderately this year, with growth of 6.3 to 6.4 percent forecast by the Centre for Macroeconomic Policy Research and Economic Restructuring under the National Institute for Economic Research.

This figure was revealed on Tuesday at a meeting to present the Assessment Report on Macroeconomic Performance in Laos and the key issues to be addressed, which was presided over by the institute’s Acting President Dr Leeber Leebouapao.

The report identifies several key drivers of growth including electricity generation by the Xayaboury hydropower plant, which became operational in December.

The other main players in economic growth are small and medium-sized enterprises and agriculture.

Alongside the contribution of the Xayaboury hydropower plant, more hydro plants will continue to support economic growth through the sale of electricity, the report noted.

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But economic growth will also face challenges. Extreme weather events in 2019 and low river levels posed a significant threat to agriculture in 2019 and will continue to affect electricity generation in the first five months of 2020.

Last year, economic growth was recorded at 6 percent as the economy was affected by various factors, of which the effect of natural disasters on agriculture was significant.
In addition, electricity generation by some existing hydropower plants has not reached expected targets.

Output in the mining sector has dropped slightly, there have been fewer government-funded projects, and there has been no increase in Foreign Direct Investment, according to the report.

In contrast, the tourism industry experienced growth of 14 percent in 2019, with about 4.7 million people visiting Laos.

The Centre’s Director General, Dr Sthabandith Insisiengmay, said the government will need to make the most of its capacity to resolve economic problems and other challenges.

“The burgeoning tourism and agriculture sectors will enable the government to benefit more from regional and international integration,” he said, adding that success in agriculture would require prioritisation of livestock and crop farming within existing market segments.

The production of clean and processed agricultural products should also be prioritised to meet the needs of domestic consumption as well as export to regional markets in the near future.

Senior economists, economics specialists and researchers from government departments and international organisations based in Laos attended the meeting.

They gave constructive comments on the assessment report on past economic performance and the outlook for 2020.