(LAO PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC)

(WIPO code: LA) (latest review October 2021)

by KATZAROV S.A., Geneva, Switzerland and LAO INTERCONSULT CO. LTD. (LICO), Vientiane

General Information

Area

236,800 sq. km.

Population

7,574,356 (estimated July 2021).

Capital

Vientiane, with approximately 694,000 inhabitants (2021).

Language

Lao.

Religion

Buddhism (70%), Christianity, animism and others.

Currency

Kip (LAK).

General Remarks

Laos became a French protectorate in 1893, but regained independence as a constitutional monarchy on July 19, 1949.

Conflicts among neutralist, communist and conservative factions created a chaotic political situation. Armed conflict increased after 1960.

The three factions formed a coalition government in June 1962, with neutralist Prince Souvanna Phouma as premier. A 14-nation conference in Geneva signed agreements, in 1962, guaranteeing neutrality and independence. By 1964, the Pathet Lao had withdrawn from the coalition, and, with aid from North Vietnamese troops, renewed sporadic attacks.

A cease-fire was reached in 1973, a National Coalition Government headed by Prince Souvanna Phouma was formed, and the Pathet Lao took effective control on August 23, 1975. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic was proclaimed on December 2, 1975.

Since 1988, the laws permit easier foreign investments, attracting foreign companies. A landlocked country, bordered by Myanmar and China (north), Vietnam (east), Cambodia (south), and Thailand (west), the Lao PDR has undergone substantial changes over the past two decades. An economic reform program initiated a transition from central planning to a market-oriented economy, which has paved the way for launching the New Economic Mechanism (NEM). Price controls were lifted and foreign trade and investment were opened with participation of the private sector in agriculture, manufacturing and services. To foster economic growth, develop and modernize social and economic infrastructure through trade liberalization, higher agricultural productivity, foreign direct investment and private sector development, a National Growth and Poverty Eradication Strategy (NGPES) was established in 2004. The law on the Promotion of Foreign Investment (revised 2004) permits easier foreign investments thus attracting foreign companies.

Similarly, the Customs Law (revised 2005) is strengthened and gives rights to customs officials to inspect and seize goods that violate intellectual property rights. On December 24, 2007 the National Assembly approved the Law on Intellectual Property and it was promulgated by the President of the State on January 14, 2008. The Law consists of XI parts, 23 Sections and 137 Articles, and covers patents, petty patents, industrial designs, trademarks, topographies of integrated circuits, geographical indications, trade secrets, plant varieties, and copyright and related rights. To better protect intellectual property in Laos and fulfill its obligations for WTO membership, the draft revision of the IP law was on debate at the Second Ordinary Session of the National Assembly (7th Legislature) of December 13, 2011, thus leaving behind in the meantime the drafting process of the Decree on the Implementation of the Intellectual Property Law of 2007.