Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR), a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, is bordered by Myanmar 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 also 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. The government has focused on infrastructure improvements 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 several measures to encourage foreign investments and increase private investment. The Lao Securities Exchange opened on 10 October 2010 and the first day of trade was 11 January 2011. As of 31 December 2016, there are ten listed companies. Lao PDR is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
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 are 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.