Lao Economy

Laos Looks To Step Up From The ‘Least Developed Country’ Status By 2030

Source: The Nation

Laos is aiming to achieve an upgrade from its least developed country (LDC) status at the United Nations to a middle income country by 2030 through strengthening international economic partnerships, including the promotion of tourism, a senior Laotian government official said on Friday.

Savankhone Razmountry, vice minister of information, culture and tourism, made the remark at a meeting in the Laotian capital of Vientiane with editors from the Asia News Network. The ANN is an alliance of 23 English-language media outlets across Asia, including The Japan News.

The Southeast Asian nation’s government has set the goal of graduating from LDC status “during the period from 2025 to 2030,” Razmountry said.

The list of countries — currently 47 — in the LDC category is reviewed every three years by the U.N. Economic and Social Council based on three criteria: gross national income (GNI) per capita, human assets, and economic vulnerability. According to data from the 2015 triennial review, the GNI per capita of Laos is US$1,232 — already close to the graduation threshold of US$1,242.

At the ANN meeting, the vice minister also stressed that tourism promotion of the country — which is rich in wildlife and cultural properties including the Unesco World Heritage site of Luang Prabang — is “an important engine” to ensure economic development.

The government plans to increase the number of foreign visitors from the current level of about 4 million to “6 or 7 million in the coming years,” Razmountry said. He called for more foreign investment to build infrastructure such as roads, international airports and hotels in the inland nation.

Razmountry highlighted the increasing need for educational cooperation from foreign countries to develop relevant human resources. Having been part of the socialist bloc before the end of the Cold War, Laos still receives scholarships from former bloc members such as China, Russia and Vietnam, according to the vice minister.