Gretchen A. Kunze
February 6, 2013
On Saturday in Vientiane, Laos announced its full membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO is the global international organization that deals with the rules of trade between nations, with the goal of helping producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business. The WTO puts it this way: WTO “agreements cover goods, services and intellectual property. They spell out the principles of liberalization, and the permitted exceptions. They include individual countries’ commitments to lower customs tariffs and other trade barriers, and to open and keep open services markets.” The process leading to approval for membership in the WTO often takes a country about five years and is a badge of marked economic achievement. For Laos, this effort has taken 15 years.
September 12, 2012
In late August, Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong approved the first-ever national draft strategy on gender; a broad plan designed to increase the number of women in senior positions in government. The strategy is not yet public…
March 28, 2012
Internet users in Laos are estimated at only 7 percent of the population as of 2010, the last time this data was gathered. But, despite how low this seems, that is double the number of users than in 2008. And, as the economy continues to grow, internet usage is steadily climbing in Laos.
January 18, 2012
DVDs of popular Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Hollywood movies are readily available in Laos, but there are very few Lao films and only a small and nascent Lao filmmaking industry. With only a handful of movie theaters in the entire country, many citizens have never been to the cinema, and filmmaking is generally seen as a foreign industry. Not only are there few films about Laos, but even fewer told from a Lao point of view.
June 2, 2010
With a single-party government and state-run media, civil society in Laos is one of the most limited in the world. Since the founding of the Lao PDR in 1975, the state has disseminated information and policies, delivered basic social services, and consulted the public through state-funded mass organizations which are part of the communist party str… Read more
March 17, 2010
The Mekong River, the longest in Southeast Asia, is at its lowest reported water level in 20 years. The river runs through six countries – China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam – but the highest percentage (35 percent) of the river’s overall water flow runs through Laos. The dramatic effects of the low water level here are palpable. I… Read more
December 16, 2009
Vientiane has never looked so good. As host to the 25th Southeast Asian Games, the city has been spruced up and polished. The 10 ASEAN countries, plus Timor-Leste, are competing in 25 sporting events, ranging from soccer, badminton, and taekwondo to more regionally-specific sports such as sepak takraw and poomsae. Vientiane’s charm and beauty are w… Read more
August 27, 2008
With its GDP growing at an average of 6-7% annually since 2000, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is a country on the move. Not very fast when compared to its rapidly-burgeoning neighbors China and Vietnam, but fast when compared to its historically languid pace. In meeting after meeting with senior Government officials and representat… Read more
April 16, 2008
The annual New York Times’ feature on hot travel destinations named Laos as number one on its list of “Places to Go in 2008.” The spotlight is now on Laos, and a recent spate of articles has been written about Lao tourism, notably Tuesday’s International Herald Tribune article by Seth Mydans and one a few weeks earlier by Denis D. Gray for Associat… Read more
December 12, 2007
A quick look through the Vientiane Times or other local newspapers in Laos reveals help-wanted ads for all sorts of professional positions, from engineers to managers to financial officers. With few exceptions, the ads clearly state they are looking for “Lao nationals only.” Work permit restrictions, the need for Lao language capability, and tremen… Read more