On this page
Embassies and consular services for Laos
|Embassy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic|
Our relationship with Laos
We have a warm yet limited relationship with Laos. Following the Viet Nam War, this neighbouring landlocked nation earned the unenviable reputation as the most heavily bombed country per capita in the world. The UN also classifies it as one of the world's least developed countries. It follows that our official aid programme, including scholarships, provincial tourism and landmine clearance amongst other initiatives, remains our most substantial link with Laos.
In 2016 Laos was our country coordinator with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN chair. This, and the series of high level visits in 2016 including by our Prime Minister and Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Trade, during 2016 has strengthened connections between our countries.
At the 2013 census, we were home to 1,374 Laotians, with almost 60% living in the Auckland region.
Total trade in goods
Exports to Laos
Top exports: manufactured tobacco and tobacco substitutes, telephones and cellphones, radio and television transmission apparatus
Imports from Laos
|$8.9 million||Top imports: cigars and cigarettes, tobacco, knitted or crocheted T-shirts and singlets|
|GDP per capita||US$2,353||(NZ GDP per capita is US$38,345)|
Trade between New Zealand and Laos is small. Recent goods exports to Laos have included telephone and transmission equipment. From time to time, we export meat and dairy products. Laos became a member of the WTO in 2013, and has established new incentive schemes such as tax holidays to attract foreign investment.
Free trade agreements with Laos
We have a regional free trade agreement that includes Laos:
We're also negotiating another regional free trade agreement that includes Laos:
NZ Inc ASEAN strategy
As a member of ASEAN, Laos is included in the NZ Inc ASEAN strategy. NZ Inc is the Government’s plan to strengthen New Zealand’s economic, political and security relationships with key international partners.
In 2015, New Zealand announced a $200m assistance package to ASEAN over the next three years. A significant portion of this supports Laos through our aid programme. Elements of this assistance include a $15m Foot and Mouth Disease Control Activity for Laos and Myanmar. We provide 35 post-graduate scholarships each year for Laotians to study in New Zealand as well as study awards at the Mekong Institute in Thailand. We provide expertise in agriculture, knowledge and skills, and disaster risk management to support sustainable economic development. The Mekong River runs through Laos and is a major source of hydro generation, allowing Laos to export electricity.
During his visit to Laos in 2016, Prime Minister John Key announced $15m to support clearing unexploded ordnance, which is left over from the Viet Nam War era and still kills up to 50 people per year.
Find out more about our aid programme with ASEAN
- New Zealand is represented in Laos by the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand
- Laos is represented in New Zealand by the Embassy of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Canberra, Australia
Recent official visits
New Zealand to Laos
- September 2016: Prime Minister Key to Vientiane for East Asia Summit Leaders’ Week
- August 2016: Trade Minister McClay to Vientiane for RCEP meetings
- July 2016: Foreign Minister McCully to Vientiane for the East Asia Summit
- August 2015: Foreign Minister McCully to Vientiane for bilateral talks
Laos to New Zealand
- February 2016: Laotian Vice Foreign Minister (now Foreign Minister), Mr Saleumxay Kommasith to New Zealand as Prime Minister’s ASEAN Fellow
- 2012: Deputy and Foreign Affairs Minister Thongloun Sisoulith met Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Trade Minister Tim Groser
- 2005: Foreign Minister Somsavat Lengsavad made an official visit