World Bank downgrades Lao economic growth rate to 3.8 percent hinh anh 1Laoseconomy is projected to expand by 3.8 percent in 2022, down from the 4.5 percent growth rate predicted in October last year, according to a World Bank's report . (Photo: XINHUA/VNA)

Vientiane (VNA)- Laos’ economy is projected to expand by 3.8 percent in 2022, down from the 4.5 percent growth rate predicted in October last year, and 3.3 percent in the downside scenario, according to the World Bank’s latest report.

The World Bank’s "East Asia and Pacific Economic Update: Braving the Storms" emphasised that the Ukraine crisis threatens the uneven recovery of developing East Asia and Pacific (EAP) countries, including Laos, from the COVID-19 shock.

The report said the Ukraine crisis comes on top of the economic distress caused by the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and financial tightening in the United States. The Russia-Ukraine conflict is disrupting the supply of commodities, increasing financial stress, and dampening global growth.

Countries with large debt like Laos are susceptible to global financial and growth shocks, the World Bank stated.

Overall economic growth for East Asia and Pacific is projected to slow to 5 percent this year - 0.4 of a percentage point less than expected in October. If global conditions worsen and national policy responses are weak, growth could slow to 4 percent.

Meanwhile, the Lao government is mulling full reopening of the country to foreign tourists after piloting the first phase of partial reopening for targeted groups of visitors, Vientiane Times reported.

The Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism has submitted a proposal to the government for consideration relating to the full reopening of the country starting next month. Accordingly, fully vaccinated visitors must provide a negative RT-PCR test result, with the test to be taken within 72 hours before arrival in Laos. 

They will be required to a COVID antigen rapid test and wait no longer than two hours to get the result, instead of the current test that took 48 hours.

The proposal also suggested that foreigners who have not been fully vaccinated could enter Laos on the condition that they are placed in quarantine for not more than seven days

It called on the government to issue visas on arrival and e-visas (electronic visas), to enable visitors to enter Laos more easily. Relevant sectors are urged to improve and simplify the online visa application system on the website ‘laogreenpass.gov.la’ to ease the entry process.

The proposal to fully reopen the country comes after only 505 international tourists have arrived in Laos since the government's partial reopening on January 1. Once approved, it will be a driving force to help gradually restore the tourism industry, which has been almost paralysed for more than two years due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic./.

VNA