Our relationship with Laos

We have a warm yet limited relationship with Laos. Following the Vietnam War, this landlocked nation earned the unenviable reputation as the most heavily bombed country in the world. The UN also classifies it as one of the world's least developed countries. It follows that our official aid programme, including scholarships, provincial tourism and landmine clearance amongst other initiatives, remains our most substantial link with Laos. 

Laos is our country coordinator with ASEAN and in 2016 Laos was the ASEAN chair. This, and the series of high level visits in 2016 including by our Prime Minister and Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Trade, during 2016 has strengthened connections between our countries.

At the 2013 census, we were home to 1,374 Laotians, with almost 60% living in the Auckland region.

Trade

2015 statistics

Total trade in goods 

$6 million

 

Exports to Laos

$1 million 

Top exports: manufactured tobacco and tobacco substitutes, telephones and cellphones, radio and television transmission apparatus

Imports from Laos

$5 million Top imports: cigars and cigarettes, tobacco, knitted or crocheted T-shirts and singlets

GDP

US$12.7 billion

 
GDP per capita US$1,900 (NZ GDP per capita is US$36,801)
GDP growth  7.6%  

Trade between New Zealand and Laos is small. Recent exports to Laos have included telephone and transmission equipment. From time to time, we export meat and dairy products. Laos became a member of the WTO in 2013, and has established new incentive schemes such as tax holidays to attract foreign investment.

Free trade agreements with Laos

We have a regional free trade agreement that includes Laos:


We're also negotiating another free trade agreement that includes Laos:

NZ Inc ASEAN strategy

As a member of ASEAN, Laos is included in the NZ Inc ASEAN strategy. NZ Inc is the Government’s plan to strengthen New Zealand’s economic, political and security relationships with key international partners.

Find out more about the NZ Inc ASEAN strategy

Aid

In 2015, New Zealand announced a $200m assistance package to ASEAN over the next three years. A significant portion of this supports Laos through our aid programme. Elements of this assistance include a $15m Foot and Mouth Disease Control Activity for Laos and Myanmar. We provide 35 post-graduate scholarships each year for Laotians to study in New Zealand as well as study awards at the Mekong Institute in Thailand. We provide expertise in agriculture, knowledge and skills, and disaster risk management to support sustainable economic development.

During his visit to Laos in 2016, Prime Minister John Key announced $15m to support clearing unexploded ordinance, which is left over from the Viet Nam War era and still kills up to 50 people per year.

Find out more about our aid programme with ASEAN

Embassies

Recent official visits

New Zealand to Laos

  • September 2016: Prime Minister Key to Vientiane for East Asia Summit Leaders’ Week
  • August 2016: Trade Minister McClay to Vientiane for RCEP meetings
  • July 2016: Foreign Minister McCully to Vientiane for the East Asia Summit
  • August 2015: Foreign Minister McCully to Vientiane for bilateral talks

Laos to New Zealand

  • February 2016: Laotian Vice Foreign Minister (now Foreign Minister), Mr Saleumxay Kommasith to New Zealand as Prime Minister’s ASEAN Fellow
  • 2012: Deputy and Foreign Affairs Minister Thongloun Sisoulith met Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Trade Minister Tim Groser
  • 2005: Foreign Minister Somsavat Lengsavad made an official visit