Laos is Thailand’s largest market among neighbouring countries. Despite the pandemic, trade with Laos continued to grow during the past year and is expected to do likewise this year.
“The 414-km (260-mile) high-speed train route link from Vientiane to Kunming will be a key factor in boosting trade from Thailand to Laos and even to China,” says Kawin Viriyapanich, Minister Counsellor (Commercial) and Director of the Thai Trade Center in Laos PDR. The railway will reduce the length of time it takes to transport good from days to only a few hours, “while the cost of transportation will also decrease in the future,” he adds.
After the completion of the border checkpoint and overall inspection facilities, which are expected around June, trade to Laos should get a boost from the rail link. Since the opening of the railway, transport on roads has decreased by about 50% as more traders opt for rail freight.
There is great potential for exporting products from Thailand to Laos as Thai goods are trusted by the Lao people for being good quality, well designed, and at a reasonable price. Cosmetics, beauty and healthcare products are especially valued despite the high competition from South Korea, Japan and other countries. Middle market Laos consumers focus on trusted brands. Importers focus on importing directly from manufacturers.
The trade counsellor to Laos suggests other Thai products with great potential include processed food, instant noodles, snacks, beverages, including energy drinks, milk, coffee, green tea, juice, vitamin water, plastic products for houseware and kitchenware, and frozen food.
Following a shift in consumer behaviour due to the pandemic and changes in modern lifestyle, Laotians have a high concern for hygiene, safety and convenience. They will choose to buy frozen food from supermarkets due to confidence in the quality and safety of Thai products, especially seafood.
Moreover, Thai shops and franchises also have a high potential for growth in Laos. So far, several franchise noodle kiosks have sprung up in the country, while specialty stores such as meat vendors are also expanding across the country.
Viriyapanich predicts that after the easing of the country’s lockdown with the expected return of international tourists to Laos, Thai products, such as processed fruit, food and rubber, will flourish in markets. Increased trade and investment will create brilliant opportunities for Thai traders and investors.
To promote Thai products and support the growth of Thai services, the Thai Trade Office in Laos has arranged many activities, such as Mini Thailand Week in supermarkets, Thai Food & Fruit Festival, Thai Seafood Festival, and business matching online events during the past year.
This year, a series of interesting activities and events, such as in-store promotion in major supermarkets across Laos, business matching events, and Mini Thailand Weeks will be organised across the country to help promote trade growth.
For more information, please contact
[email protected], [email protected].
Photo courtesy of
DITP’s Overseas Office in Laos PDR
Words by Petchanet Pratruangkrai