Laos has been making steady progress toward liberalization and a market economy since 1986. The government has decentralized control and encouraged private enterprises. Between 1988 and 2008, the economy grew at around 6% per year, except for a short-lived drop caused by the Asian financial crisis beginning in 1997. This growth has been fueled by high-profile foreign direct investment in hydropower dams along the Mekong River, copper and gold mining, logging, and construction. Mining and hydropower compose eighty percent of foreign direct investment.
The 2010 Law on Investment Promotion introduced uniform business registration requirements and tax incentives that apply equally to foreign and domestic investors. Laos has several SEZs located in Vientienne, Champassak, and in more remote areas including along the Chinese border. Locus Economica helped refocus the SEZ Program to better address the country’s economic priorities and assisted with the development of a new SEZ Bill presented to the National Assembly in 2017.