Lao garment industry booms
VIENTIANE, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- An expansion of industrial capacity in Laos' garment industry has caused a five percent increase in export value over the first six months of 2014, state- run daily Vientiane Times reported Tuesday.
According to Lao Garment Industry Association President Onesy Boutsivongsakd, the export value of Lao garments in the first six months of this year reached 95 million U.S. dollars, a five percent increase over the same period last year.
The increase was announced at a media event to unveil a new enterprise survey here in the capital. The survey indicated that the domestic business climate has steadily improved over the last several years.
Throughout 2014 the Lao Garment Industry Association predicts that exports of garment products will reach a figure of 226 million U.S. dollars. Confidence in the figure has been driven by an increased amount of garment companies and an increased demand for the products internationally.
The garment industry here has been strengthened by the implementation of modern technology and the influx of new manufacturers. According to Onesy the country continues to be attractive because of its stable political environment and cheap labor force.
"One of the main factors which makes Laos an attractive investment destinations is that there are no strikes in Laos as there are in neighboring countries," Onesy said.
Despite an otherwise positive outlook, the garment industry in Laos is facing a labor shortage as Lao workers move to Thailand in search of higher wages.
"We need about 60,000 laborers to work in the industry," Onesy said.
Currently Laos has a garment industry workforce of approximately 30,000 people.
Thailand offers an attractive minimum wage of 9000 Thai baht ( 279.72 U.S. dollars) a month while the Lao minimum wage sits at 620,000 Lao kip (approximately 77.07 U.S. dollars) per month.
According to Onesy, the demand for Lao garments internationally has boomed as global markets recover. The EU in particular has a voracious demand for Lao garments with Lao manufacturers struggling to keep up with demand.
"The demand for garment products is high so we cannot secure the supply of garments to the market due to the lack of labor available," he said.