The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Geoffrey Bannister, Manuk Ghazanchyan, and Theodore Bikoi
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
This paper assesses external trade statistics in Lao PDR by looking at mirror statistics, and
with reference to international experience in compilation and dissemination of external trade
data. We find that exports could be underreported by 8 to 50 percent, while imports could be
underreported by 30 to 70 percent, and the trade deficit could be 20 percent to 280 percent
higher. Underreporting is concentrated in trade with major partners, including Thailand
(17 percent of total trade), China (10 percent of total trade) and Vietnam (3 percent of total
trade). On the export side, underreporting is concentrated in wood and wood products, while
for imports it is concentrated in a much wider variety of products, including food, fuel,
vehicles, machinery, chemical products, plastics and rubber, and construction materials.
Possible sources and implications of these discrepancies are discussed.