I. Overview
      Located in the interior of the ASEAN region, and bordered by China, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia, Laos is a tropical landlocked country in the North Indochina Peninsula. Higher in the north and lower in the south, it has the lowest point at the exit of the Mekong River bordered by Cambodia to the south (at an elevation of 50 meters), and the highest one on the highest peak of Phou Bia Mountain, (at an elevation of 2,819 meters). There are 80% of mountains and plateaus in Laos, covered with forests largely.
      Laos has a tropical inland monsoon climate, featured by high temperature, abundant rainfall, high relative humidity and distinct three-dimensional climate. The dry season and wet season are clearly defined. The former runs from November to April, and the latter from May to October. It has the minimum annual precipitation of 1,250 millimeters and the maximum of 3,750 millimeters.
      In 2016, the GDP of Laos reached about USD 13.27 billion, a year-on-year increase of 7%, and the per capita GDP totaled approximately USD 2,408. Agriculture, wood processing industry and tourism are the mainstay industries of Laos. With abundant resources in such industries as the electric power industry, the energy industry, and the agricultural byproducts processing industry, Laos enjoys a tremendous potential of development.
      Laos is rich in water and forest resources, as well as valuable rosewood resources. Due to abundant mineral resources, it boasts huge potentials in such minerals as tin, lead, potassium, copper, iron, gold, and salt. Laos covers a cultivated area of about 747,000 hectares, with main crops of rice, maize, potatoes, coffee, tobacco and cotton.
      With a population of about 7 million and a population density of around 26.7 per square kilometer, it is sparsely populated. There are 49 ethnic groups, including Lao Loum, Lao Theung, and Lao Soung. Since a majority of Laotians are Buddhists, Buddhism is defined as the state religion according to the Constitution of Laos.
      With the land area of 236,800 square kilometers, there are 17 provinces and one prefecture, which are roughly divided into three regions—upper, middle and lower Laos.

      II. Political Environment
      Since the moment when the Lao People’s Democratic Republic was established on December 2, 1975, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, the only political party and ruling party with a stable political situation in Laos, has served as the governor. During the Seventh Congress of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party in 2001, it put forward the development goals and specific guidelines of Laos during the first 20 years of the 21st century, and stressed to speed up development and get rid of underdevelopment as soon as possible. Bounnhang Vorachith serves as President of Laos, and Thongloun Sisoulith is Prime Minister.
      The long-term and stable policies have strong continuity in Laos where strikes have never happened and the social public security is satisfactory. What is more, since Laos has paid much attention to multi-track diplomacy, in addition to harmonious relations with surrounding countries, it has also built a comprehensive strategic partnership with China.
      Laos is a traditional Buddhism country with distinct religious belief and harmonious ethnic relationship.
      III. International Economic and Trade Environment
      Laos is a WTO member.
      Laos is also the member of the following nine free trade areas, including the ASEAN Community (Association of Southeast Asian Nation), ASEAN–Australia,       ASEAN–New Zealand, ASEAN–China, ASEAN–India, ASEAN–Japan, ASEAN–Korea, ASEAN–Pacific Alliance, and ASEAN–Vietnam.
      42 countries and regions worldwide have granted Generalized System of Preference (GSP) status to Laos, among which are EU member countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK), Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Belarus, Kazakhstan, India, China, Taiwan, and South Korea.

      IV. Traffic Information
      (I) Road Transport
      A. No. 13 National Highways passes through the South of Laos at the Cambodian border, and the North at the Chinese border.
      B. The 450th Anniversary Avenue connects No. 13 National Highways and the customs of Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge.
      C. The construction of the Vientiane-Vang Vieng Expressway — the first expressway in Laos—is expected to be commenced formally in March 2018. The project is cooperated by Yunnan Construction and Investment Holding Group Co., Ltd. and the Government of Laos, with a planned investment of about USD 1.3 billion. The two-way four-lane expressway is about 113.5 kilometers long and 23 meters wide. With a construction period of three years, it is expected to be put into operation by the end of 2020.
      (II) Water Transport
      A. Transport in the Mekong River
      The water transport in Laos covers a range of approximately 3,000 kilometers. The length of the Mekong River in Laos totals over 1,800 kilometers, including more than 20 small wharves, and it runs through 13 provinces and cities, heading the north to Luang Prabang from Vientiane, and south to Savannakhet. It is navigable all year round, with 18% of transportation. After partial waterway regulation of the upper Mekong River, a 150-ton vessel can navigate during the dry season, and a 300-ton vessel can sail on it during the wet season. Starting from Ban Houayxay, the lower Mekong River is still not suitable for transportation. The unnavigable section of the north before has been renovated by the Government of China through funding assistance. Vessels carrying around 200 tons, therefore, can reach Guanlei Port of Lancang River in China along the Mekong River.
      B. Seaway Transportation
      Through the land way, Laos connects the ports in Thailand (Bangkok and Laem Chabang), as well as ones in Vietnam (Da Nang and Haiphong).
      (III) Rail Transport
      The under-planning Laos-China Railway is near SCDZ. The trunk line from the freight station in Vientiane to the passenger station is approximately parallel with SCDZ. There is 1.5 kilometers from the central position of the freight station to the entrance of SCDZ. The Laos-China Railway has been under construction, and is expected to be put into operation in 2021. Until then, the project will be beneficial for Laos to break the dilemma of a “landlocked country” and develop new pattern of international relations.
      (IV) Air Transport

      Since Vientiane is closely related with the aviation in China, there are direct flights from Kunming, Jinghong, Guangzhou, Nanning and Chengdu. Meanwhile, Vientiane has also offered direct flights to such cities as Seoul, Hanoi, Chiang Mai, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok and Phnom Penh.


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