Since 2000, Laos has been among the fastest growing economies in the world, recording average annual growth of around 7 percent, mostly driven by the mining and hydropower sectors and infrastructure development. However, strong GDP growth was not particularly inclusive, nor did it result in widescale job creation. Poverty has decreased, but at a slower pace than in other fast-growing countriesin the region, while inequality has risen. Neither has growth been sustainable from macroeconomic or environmental perspectives. Stocks of natural capital have been depleting: many of the country’s forests and water resources are vulnerable. Public debt has increased to critical levels and the resulting debt service burden is crowding out public spending on critical services. This situation could lead to disruptive fiscal and external adjustments if left unaddressed.
This report examines the reasons why Lao growth has not resulted in greater improvements to socio-economic conditions for most of the population. It discusses Laos' many advantages, and provides a set of policy recommendations for restoring macroeconomic stability, and leveraging strategic location and natural capital to improve the future for the country's young and growing population.
At this launch event, a panel of experts will discuss the findings of the report and give their views on the way forward.