Lao PDR’s export market may be under threat by continued political turmoil in Thailand, an economist has warned, according to a report in state-run daily Vientiane Times on Thursday.
“Thailand is not only our major trading partner but our transit road to export our products to the international market. We cannot avoid an impact if the political turmoil in the neighboring country gets worse,” senior economist Mana Southichack told the paper.
As turmoil in Thailand continues, Lao exporters are becoming increasingly concerned about the future of exports to the country. Anti-government protesters holding rallies in Bangkok have vowed to intensify efforts to shut down the city if Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra fails to resign this week before a planned election on Feb. 2.
According to a report by the Lao Ministry of Planning and Investment, Lao PDR’s export value this year is expected to reach approximately 2.1 billion U.S. dollars. A large amount of those goods are destined to travel to Thailand or though Thai ports to consumers overseas.
Thailand and Laos have agreed to double their bilateral trade to 8 billion U.S. dollars by 2015, up from a figure of 4 billion U. S. dollars in 2011. In 2012 trade between the two countries was worth 4.82 billion U.S. dollars, up 23.82 percent from the previous year.
Thailand is Laos’ top trading partner and a lifeline for vital imports such as finished oil, vehicles, machinery and steel. Likewise Laos exports a large amount of metal scrap, processed wood, fruits and vegetables to Thailand.