VIENTIANE, April 12 (Xinhua) -- The Laos' economic growth is likely to be sustained in 2018 and accelerate in 2019, while inflation will edge up, local daily Thursday quoted the Asian Development Bank (ADB) report as saying.
In ADB's flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook 2018, the bank forecasts gross domestic product (GDP) growth for Laos to reach 6.8 percent in 2018 and to accelerate to 7 percent next year.
"Despite the government's ban on logging exports, tighter credit conditions, subdued international mineral prices and lower tourist arrivals, Laos maintains its growth momentum supported by mega infrastructure development projects, increased electricity generation and expansion in the service sector," local daily Vientiane Times Thursday quoted the ADB Country Director to Laos, Yasushi Negishi as saying.
The industry sector's slowdown that began in 2017 persists but is compensated by slightly higher growth in services, said the report.
Some hydropower projects now under construction will come online in 2019, notably the 1,300 MW Xayaburi hydropower development project, and the industry sector will reverse its declining trend, ADB Public Management Specialist Rattanatay Luanglatbandith said at the launch of Asian Development Outlook 2018 here on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, barring more bad weather, agriculture should continue to grow around 3 percent and service sector growth is forecast to strengthen mildly as tourist arrivals are expected to recover from last year supported by Visit Lao Year 2018, he said.
While growth momentum is maintained, inflation is expected to remain moderate at 2.0-2.5 percent, Rattanatay explained.
The current account deficit is projected to expand to 14.9 percent of GDP in 2018 as higher inflation, rising international oil prices and large imports of machinery for the mega infrastructure projects drive up the import bill while export growth moderates, he revealed.
When the new hydropower projects start operation, electricity exports are expected to pick up in 2019, pushing the current account deficit down to 13.7 percent of GDP, Rattanatay said.
A development challenge for the country is a mismatch between the skills that young people acquire in schools and those in demand by the labor market, Rattanatay said.
"For more inclusive growth, the government needs to further enhance its efforts to provide labor with skill sets to respond to demands in the labor market," Negishi added.