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Map of Laos

Map of Laos.
flag of the Lao People's Democratic Republic

The Lao People's Democratic Republic


New Zealand’s relationship with Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is friendly but limited.  Along with increasing dialogue under the ASEAN umbrella, the relationship has primarily revolved around development assistance and (until 2003) limited defence links through New Zealand Defence Force technical assistance in unexploded ordinance (UXO) clearance.  New Zealand’s development assistance to Lao PDR has been well received.  There is a small Lao community in New Zealand after refugees were received in the 1980s.

Lao PDR is New Zealand’s country coordinator for the ASEAN dialogue until mid-2015, and chairs ASEAN in 2016.

Bilateral links

Trade and economic relationship

Trade between New Zealand and Lao PDR remains very limited.  New Zealand products available in Lao PDR mainly comprise telephone and transmission apparatus.

There is potential in Lao PDR for New Zealand input in forestry, education, agriculture, mining, civil aviation and hydro electricity generation projects.  Some New Zealand engineering and other consultants work in these sectors.  Due to its Least Developed Country status Lao PDR has had duty and quota free access to New Zealand since 2001. 

New Zealand Trade (year ended Dec 2012)


NZ’s 170th largest trading partner

NZ Exports

NZ$0.9 million (FOB)

Main exports

Electric Machinery ($0.8m);

NZ Imports

NZ$0.2million (CIF)

Main imports

Apparel ($0.19m)

Development assistance

The New Zealand development programme in the Lao PDR focuses on sustainable economic development through community based tourism and Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) clearance, English Language Training for Officials and Senior Officials (ELTO/ELTSO) and scholarships. The Lao PDR activities are funded from the Mekong programme with an estimated country aid flow of NZ$4.1 million in 2012/13.

New Zealand has a successful record of tourism sector support in the Lao PDR, with around $7 million of funding provided from 1997-2014. Approximately $4.5 million is being invested from 2011-14 to develop tourism infrastructure and community based tourism enterprises through the Community-Based Tourism for Sustainable Economic Development (CBT-SED) programme.

In November 2010 New Zealand announced a contribution of approximately $1.1 million for the clearance of UXO at the first Meeting of States Parties to the International Convention on Cluster Munitions in Vientiane. New Zealand has committed $2million to clear a further 1,000 hectares by the end of 2013 in the province of Xieng Khouang.

Each year 16-20 officials participate in the English Language Training for Officials (ELTO) programme in New Zealand and 10 officials participate in the senior officials programme. Approximately 213 officials have participated in the ELTO programmes from 1995 to 2012 and 15 senior officials in the ELTSO programme since its inception in 2011. There are 45 Lao PDR students currently in New Zealand with the ASEAN Scholars awards.

Lao PDR also benefits from other regional initiatives supported by the New Zealand Aid Programme, such as the Mekong Institute.  This includes the Mekong Institute–New Zealand Ambassador’s Scholarships and the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) that works to combat human trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

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Regional and multilateral links

We also engage with Lao PDR in multilateral and regional fora. These include the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Asia-Pacific Economic Community (APEC), the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).

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Foreign Minister Somsavat Lengsavad made his third official visit to New Zealand in February 2005.  Hon Jim Sutton, Minister for Trade Negotiations visited in March 2003 as part of a South East Asia trade mission. Deputy Speaker Lindsay Tisch visited Lao in January 2009 for the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum.

In March 2012, Deputy Minister and Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith visited New Zealand and met with Minister McCully and Minister Groser.
Minister McCully visited Lao PDR in November 2012 for the 9th ASEM Foreign Minister’s meeting.



The New Zealand Ambassador in Bangkok has been cross-accredited to Lao PDR since February 1963.

The Lao Ambassador in Canberra is cross-accredited to New Zealand.

Travel advice

The Safetravel website provides a travel advisory for travellers to Laos.

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Page last updated: Monday, 09 December 2013 13:00 NZDT