Laos - Country Commercial Guide
Selling to the Public Sector

Describes how major projects are secured and financed. Explains activities of the multilateral development banks in and other aid-funded projects. 

Last published date: 2022-07-30

The Lao Government is a leading consumer of goods and services, but procurement procedures are opaque.  The national budget is heavily augmented by development assistance, and donors commonly encourage government purchases from their home industries as part of aid deals.  Laos is not a party or an observer to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement.

When business opportunities involving Lao government entities are associated with donors, support contracts are often advertised for bid in local English-language newspapers, Vientiane Times and Khaosan Pathet Lao (KPL).  Major donor-financed deals may include infrastructure projects financed by multilateral development banks including the World Bank and Asia Development Bank.

Government purchases are not typically advertised and bid upon openly.  However, niche opportunities are known to exist for direct private sales to government entities, with past examples such as telecommunications and aviation.  The government recently issued orders that appear to require open and competitive bidding for all government-financed procurement and projects.

U.S. Commercial Service Liaison Offices at the Multilateral Development Banks (Asian Development Bank, World Bank)

The U.S. Foreign Commercial Service maintains Commercial Liaison Offices in each of the main Multilateral Development Banks, including the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. These institutions lend billions of dollars in developing countries to projects aimed at accelerating economic growth and social development by reducing poverty and inequality, improving health and education, and advancing infrastructure development.  The Commercial Liaison Offices help American businesses learn how to get involved in bank-funded projects, and advocate on behalf of American bidders.  Learn more by contacting the Commercial Liaison Offices to the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

Resources

Financing Projects

On June 12, 2009, President Obama issued a Presidential determination that Laos and Cambodia would no longer be classified as “Marxist-Leninist countries” as defined in the Export Import Act.  This determination opened the door for Ex-Im Bank activity in those two countries, although Ex-Im Bank is not currently financing any projects in Laos.

An OPIC agreement was signed in 1996, and an agreement with the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) in 1998.  In 1998, the government signed an agreement with the Mekong Project Development Facility (MPDF), a multi-donor funded operation managed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC).  The MPDF is designed to promote the establishment and expansion of privately owned, small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as joint venture projects with significant local private participation in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.  The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are very active in Laos and are often involved in providing financing or guarantees for major projects.  Las was registered as a member of Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in 2014.

Financing Resources

Trade Finance Guide: Trade Finance Guide — Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters, published by the International Trade Administration’s Industry & Analysis team

Export-Import Bank of the United States

Country Limitation Schedule  

Development Finance Corporation

U.S. Trade and Development Agency

SBA’s Office of International Trade   

USDA Commodity Credit Corporation

U.S. Agency for International Development

U.S. Trade and Development Agency