Laos recorded a trade deficit of almost $100 million in the first nine months of this year, although the figure does not include earnings from the export of electricity.
The value of exports was recorded at $4.1 billion, while goods worth $4.2 billion were imported, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
The main products exported by Laos were copper ore, copper and copper products, frames and other camera parts, bananas, mixed gold (gold bars), clothing, rubber, sugar, cassava, raw coffee, sweetcorn, fruit (watermelon, passion fruit and tamarind) and processed wood.
The main items imported were vehicles (other than motorcycles and tractors), diesel, mechanical equipment (other than motor vehicles), steel, steel products, magnetic steel, auto parts (including tyres, glass, chains), electrical products, fuel, plastics, gemstones and semi-precious stones, fertiliser and food factory waste.
Laos’ main markets are Thailand, China and Vietnam.
The value of two-way trade between Laos and Thailand reached $640 million, while trade between Laos and China rose to $1.7 billion, and trade between Laos and Vietnam soared to about $842 million.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the government is making efforts to bolster trade, especially through the provision of better transport links.
Last year, Laos’ total trade value stood at $11.2 billion, with a trade deficit of $1 billion. Laos anticipates closer links with neighbouring countries in ASEAN, China and European countries, and hopes that the opening of the Laos-China railway in December will bring a wide range of trade and investment opportunities in the years to come.
The government is also working with the private sector to improve the business environment to attract more foreign trading partners and investors through the removal of unnecessary barriers and the provision of incentives, policies and tighter regulations.
Meanwhile, Laos recorded a trade surplus of $775 million with China during the first nine months of this year despite bilateral trade being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thailand remains the country’s largest trade partner, while China remains Laos’ largest export market.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK