Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR), a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, is bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west. Lao PDR is ruled by a single party Communist government. It was a former French colony that gained independence in 1954. The population is approximately 7 million, with most living in rural areas. Lao is the official language, with French still utilised in some parts of the capital of Vientiane. Thai is common along the border areas and in the capital. The official currency of Lao PDR is the kip (LAK), but the Thai baht (THB) and United States dollar (USD) are also common in many border areas.
Most of the country is mountainous and thickly forested, with the Mekong River forming a large part of the western boundary with Thailand and serving as a major transportation route. Transportation infrastructure outside of the capital is getting better; however, infrastructure improvements are being focused on by the Lao government as part of the Millennium Development Goals by 2020. The government has announced the joint construction with China of a high speed rail line between China and Thailand to link Lao PDR with the transportation hubs in these countries. Construction of the project started on 25 December 2016 and is expected to take five years to complete.
The major industries in Lao PDR are mining, hydro power, agriculture, and light manufacturing. There has been significant foreign investment in the hydro power and mining industries. Lao PDR's major trading partners (i.e. foreign investors) are Thailand, China, and Vietnam.
The government has instituted a number of measures to encourage foreign investment and increased private investment. The Lao Stock Exchange opened on 10 October 2010 and the first day of trade was 11 January 2011. Lao PDR is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). As of 31 December 2016, there are six listed companies.
PwC Lao has had an office in Vientiane since 1996 employing over 100 local and expatriate professionals in tax/legal and audit services. Our tax and legal practice in Lao PDR is comprised of experienced local professionals and a strong network of international consultants offering a wealth of practical experience and knowledge in relation to the laws and regulations of Lao PDR.