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Canada – Lao PDR Relations

Bilateral relations between Canada and Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), or Laos, were established in 1954 with the formalization of Lao independence from France. In August 2015, Canada’s first resident diplomat opened the Office of the Embassy of Canada in Vientiane, Lao PDR. Canada’s ambassador to the Lao PDR remains resident in Bangkok, Thailand. The Lao PDR is represented in Canada by its embassy in Washington, D.C.

The Office of the Embassy of Canada in Vientiane offers trade and consular services, in addition to exploring opportunities for political, economic and cultural cooperation. The office engages with Lao officials on topics of mutual interest. Canada’s political objectives in the Lao PDR include encouraging capacity building in the area of human rights and improving human security, as well as closer collaboration with all ASEAN states.

Canada also cooperates with the Lao PDR as a dialogue partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Both countries are also members of the security-oriented ASEAN Regional Forum.

Canada supports the Lao government and other partners on mine action as unexploded ordnance (UXO) continues to affect the lives of its citizens and presents a serious obstacle to development. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 18: Lives Safe from UXO’s is Lao PDR’s own national goal as a part of the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Canada supports Lao PDR’s commitments to advancing the reduction of UXO impact and contributing to poverty reduction in the process.

Canada and Lao PDR are partners in the International Organisation of La Francophonie, which is dedicated to promoting peace, cooperation and sustainable development. Our shared membership allows us to work together to celebrate and support the international French-speaking community. 

The links between our two peoples also contribute to the Canada-Lao PDR relationship. Today, roughly 25,000 people living in Canada identified themselves as being of Lao origin. Canadian tourism to the Lao PDR is increasing, as are other opportunities for joint cooperation.

While Canada does not have a bilateral development program in the Lao PDR, the country is eligible for Canadian assistance through Global Affairs Canada’s ASEAN Regional Development Program, the Canada-Asia Trade and Investment for Growth program, as well as for assistance provided through multilateral organizations and Canadian and international civil society organizations. As well, the Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development initiative will provide individuals from ASEAN member states, especially women, the opportunity to apply for studies or research in Canada. 

Canada-Lao PDR Commercial Relations

On February 2, 2013, the Lao PDR was granted full membership in the WTO and became the last Southeast Asian country to officially join the organization. Lao GDP growth in 2017 was 7.0% (International Monetary Fund). The country possesses abundant natural resources and aims to become ASEAN’s battery through its hydropower resources. Furthermore, the Lao PDR is embracing its land-linked location and is becoming a road and rail junction between China and Southeast Asia.

Several Canadian firms are already active in the Lao PDR, working in the environmental, extractive and manufacturing sectors. Other opportunities exist in areas where Canadian firms are strong, such as hydro, mining, infrastructure and clean technology. Canadian companies can play a positive role as good corporate citizens and responsible investors in the Lao PDR.

August 2018

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