flag Laos Laos: Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Laos is not too open to foreign trade, which represents 41.1% of its GDP (WTO, 2020-2022 average). Although the country is implementing a process to open its economy, the state maintains restrictions on the import of certain goods such as chemical products and some types of medication. Timber and weapons cannot be exported, and special permits are required to export rice, rough diamonds, gold, and polished silver. Laos became a member of the WTO in February 2013. This membership was subject to the adoption of the commitments of the WTO, mainly setting a limit to customs duties, the partial or total opening of all sectors, respecting the regulations of the WTO regarding inspections before shipping, and adopting anti-dumping measures. In 2022, electricity comprised the largest portion of Laos’ total exports, amounting to USD 2.35 billion (28.7% of the total). Following electricity were mining products, encompassing gold, rubber, coffee, cassava, garments, and various agricultural goods. Conversely, the primary imported goods for Laos included fuel, vehicles and spare parts, machinery, steel, and plastic (data Ministry of Industry and Commerce).

In 2022, Thailand emerged as Laos' primary export destination, totaling USD 2.94 billion. Following Thailand were China (USD 1.64 billion), Vietnam (USD 1.35 billion), Australia (USD 395 million), and Cambodia (USD 185 million). Thailand also maintained its position as the leading source of imports, accounting for a total value of USD 3.37 billion, trailed by China (USD 1.64 billion) and Vietnam (USD 423 million), as reported by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Laos has suffered a trade deficit for many years, but this trend had gradually reduced recently due to the steady growth of exports and the completion of infrastructure projects. Official governmental data indicates that the total bilateral trade between Laos and foreign countries in 2022 amounted to USD 15 billion. Of this total, exports were valued at USD 8.19 billion, while imports reached USD 6.8 billion, resulting in a positive trade balance for merchandise. Preliminary figures from the Lao Trade Portal show that, in 2023, the combined trade value of Laos' imports and exports totaled USD 15.5 billion, marking a 3.5% increase compared to the figures for 2022. The value of exports in 2023 reached USD 8.3 billion, reflecting a 3.5% increase year on year; conversely, imports in 2023 amounted to USD 7.1 billion (+5%).

Foreign Trade Indicators 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 6,2725,3706,2757,2447,711
Exports of Goods (million USD) 5,8066,1157,6958,1988,371
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,2464452525281,099
Exports of Services (million USD) 1,1793461254061,770
Trade Balance (million USD) -4667451,419n/an/a

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

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To go further, check out our service Import controls and Export controls

To go further, check out our service Import-Export Flows


Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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List of tariffs and local taxes that apply to your product on our service Customs Duties


Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
International Economic Cooperation
Member of ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations), AFTA and the ASEAN - China Free Trade Area.


Member of International finance corporation

Member of EAS (East Asia Summit)

Useful Resources
Laos Customs Department
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
Website of the Ministry of Industry and Trade
Go to this page to find the contact details of the intellectual property offices in Laos.

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Latest Update: May 2024

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