Laos is likely to enjoy a trade surplus of about $121 million for the first six months of this year, even as the government is predicting an overall trade deficit of around $259 million for this year.
Projected exports for the first six months of this year are $2.409 billion or 55.2 per cent of the annual plan ($5.516 billion) with imports at $2.288 billion or 39.6 per cent of the yearly plan ($5.775 billion), Minister of Planning and Investment Souphanh Keomixay informed a meeting of cabinet members, provincial governors and the Vientiane mayor in the capital last week.
The major areas for export income are electricity, mineral products and some agricultural produce, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
Imports are mostly from Thailand, China, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Germany, India and the US, and exports are bound for China, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Japan, Germany, the US, Sweden and Switzerland.
However, the country risks facing an annual trade deficit with more goods imported than exported, especially construction materials, fuel, vehicles and related items.
Small businesses still produce most products with local operators often having limited experience in exporting.
In the agriculture sector for the first half of this year, dry season rice production is expected to achieve 453,730 tonnes, an increase of 13 per cent compared to the same period last year. The production of other crops has also increased, especially vegetables with 1.19 million tonnes, an increase of 19 per cent.
Livestock and fisheries’ production will stand at 228,990 tonnes, an increase of 14 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year, Souphanh said.
Other commercial productions such as of corn, soybean, green bean and peanut also fared well.
The power sector is expected to produce 16.007 billion kWh worth 7.874 trillion kip ($900.16 million) in the first six months, an increase of three per cent compared to the same period last year.
Mineral production will reach 6.164 trillion kip, an increase of 7.3 per cent compared to the same period last year. The processing industry and handicraft production touched 5.431 trillion kip, a rise of 8.62 per cent. The industry sector is expanding at a rate of 3.4 per cent.
Exports from the Special Economic Zones, especially Savan-Seno Special Economic Zone, Industry Zone Development, the Vientiane-Nonthong Industry and Trade Area (Vita Park), and Champassak economic zone achieved $134.7 million.
In the first six months of this year, the service sector, particularly retail and wholesale, reached 26.951 trillion kip. This was a drop of three per cent compared to the corresponding period last year. Goods traffic was expected to reach 3,780 tonnes, an increase of five per cent.
Tourist arrivals hit 2.12 million people or 46 per cent of the annual plan, registering a slight increase compared to the same period last year. VIENTIANE TIMES