Laos - Country Commercial Guide
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General Overview

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, electronic commerce was not widely used in Laos, due to underdevelopment of Laos’s telecommunications infrastructure and the low rate of formal banking and credit card use.  Since 2021, the number of vendors proffering household wares through Facebook pages, WeChat, and WhatsApp has grown, with vendors typically relying on bank transfers or cash on delivery for payment.  QR code-enabled transfers are most common but registering for the necessary local bank accounts can be cumbersome.  The lack of a secure, universal payment platform, coupled with pervasive opportunities for nefarious actors to engage in digital fraud, continues to hamper growth.

Legal & Regulatory

The Lao government passed a Law on Electronic Transactions in 2012 and a Decree on Electronic Commerce in 2021 and has sought ways to encourage growth and capture revenue from electronic commerce.  The 2021 decree mandated electronic commerce entities register with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.  In February 2022, the Ministry of Finance announced a new tax regulation that requires non-resident electronic commerce and digital platform service providers that earn more than approximately U.S. $34,000 annually in Laos to register a tax identification number and pay VAT taxes, profit taxes, and applicable income taxes twice per year, beginning July 2022.  In May 2023, the government issued a decree and organized a subsequent workshop to promote the adoption of e-commerce by Lao businesses.

Consumer Behavior- Facebook is the most common and effective tool used for businesses to communicate with their customers.  Across the country most internet users access the web by mobile device.  Broadband internet access is widely available in Vientiane, although Laos has some of the most expensive and slowest internet speeds in ASEAN.