Lao authorities say 2007 was a very successful year for Laos. Achievements were made in many sectors, especially in the area of economic development with gross domestic products growing at an average rate of 8 percent, and investments totalling more than 1.1 billion dollars.
According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the 8% economic growth rate translates into a per capita income of $678, an increase of $235 from last year. There were a total of 191 investment projects - 85% of which are foreign investments - with an aggregate value of over 1,137 million dollars. And for the first time in 32 years, Laos had a trade surplus, with exports totalling $977 millions and imports totalling $916 millions.
Meanwhile, the National Tourism Authority reports that 1.4 million foreign tourists visited Laos last year, bringing revenues of over $200 millions to the service sector.
The Lao National Assembly also claims success in its fourth ordinary session which adjourned on December 26, 2007, after adopting one amended law on forestry and seven new laws on counter-narcotics, intellectual property, aquatics and wildlife, sports, merchandise standardization, fire prevention, and trade unions. National Assembly president Thongsing Thammavong says the laws were democratically passed, with all lawmakers actively participating in the debate. The public was also allowed to sit in, observe, comment and express their opinions during the debate. And the media were permitted to cover and report on the meetings.
Another successful story for Laos in 2007 was in sports. Lao athletes performed better than previous years at the 24th SEA Games in Ratchasima, Thailand, snatching 5 gold medals, 7 silver, and 32 bronze.
Listen to our Laos Today report for more details in Lao.