Money flows: Who’s investing in Laos, and what problems do they present?

A nation disadvantaged by geography, Laos has turned to intense infrastructural development and foreign direct investments to accelerate economic growth. As the landlocked nation opens its doors to foreign money, who is it inviting, and what troubles lay ahead?

Once an ancient kingdom and a hub for overland trade, Laos has found it difficult to thrive in a globalised world, after decades of colonisation and war. The country’s mountainous terrain and modest population of 7.2 million have also left it with limited economic opportunities. To solve this, the government has generously welcomed foreign direct investments (FDI) since the 1980s, especially in major infrastructural developments, hoping to leverage capital and skills transfer to improve its economy.

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Pei Ying Loh & Zenn Wong