Laos’ ranking in the Heritage Foundation’s 2017 “Index of Economic Freedom”
Note: This is another in a series of posts on “Laos by the numbers.”
Feedback and suggestions are welcome.
In its 2017 Index of Economic Freedom, the Heritage Foundation ranks the Lao PDR a 123rd out of 180 countries.
Its score of 54 places it in the category of “mostly unfree.” Other categories include free, mostly free, moderately free and repressed. Laos score has remained quite stable over the ten year history of the index.
The index combines indicators of Rule of Law, Government Size, Regulatory Efficiency, and Open Markets. Hong Kong tops the list, and North Korean is at the bottom.
Rankings and scores of neighbouring countries include:
- Thailand: 55th (66.2)
- Cambodia: 94th (59.5)
- China: 111th (57.4)
- Myanmar: 146th (52.5)
- Vietnam: 147 (52.4)
In part, the Heritage Foundation states:
The Laotian economy has shown notable resilience, growing at an average annual rate of more than 7 percent over the past five years. Laos continues to integrate more fully into the system of global trade and investment. The trade regime has become more transparent, and there has been progress in improving the management of public finances.
Substantial challenges remain, particularly in implementing deeper institutional and systemic reforms that are critical to advancing economic freedom. Weak property rights, pervasive corruption, and burdensome bureaucracy, exacerbated by lingering government interference and regulatory controls, continue to reduce the dynamism of investment flows and overall economic efficiency.
In 2018, Lao PDR will be reviewed against markers for graduation from LDC status as a beginning of the process of assessing Lao PDR’s aspiration to graduate from LDC status by the 2020s.
…European development partners have committed approximately USD 550 million in support of the implementation of the Government’s 8th NSEDP (2016-2020). This represents over 30 percent of all the ODA received by the Lao Government to date. Nearly all of the European ODA is provided in grants.
International Human Rights organisations and the Asia Europe People’s Forum are of the opinion that the Lao Government is in breach of its human rights commitments, due to the enforced nature of Sombath’s disappearance and its failure to ensure the safe return of Sombath. There are also significant concerns about the restrictions on civil society.
Notwithstanding the clear statement of the European Union quoted above, it would appear that the ODA support given by the EU and other donors continues and that formally there have not been moves to suspend or change the flow of ODA in spite of human rights abuses by the Lao PDR.
…It is the view of many organisations that Lao PDR graduation from LDC status is not acceptable given its consistent record of human rights violations , including the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone.
Excerpts from letter to the Rt. Hon. Mark Field, Member of UK Parliament, from Andy Rutherford, member of International Organising Committee, Asia Europe People’s Forum
Far away from Laos is a small but beautiful land of Kashmir. Despite the distance from Laos, we heard loud and clear appeals for your resurfacing from the last few years, but sadly it seems that those at the helm of affairs in Laos are unable to hear the demand for justice and your safe return. They aren’t deaf or blind, their conscience has died long ago. It is due to the death of their morality, that people like you who work for justice and truth are subjected to enforced disappearances. We promise you that we won’t let your legacy of fighting for justice to die. You will live within us always.
Shui Meng has a bigger family now, struggling for reunion with you and with all those who have disappeared around the world.
We are committed to work for a world without desaprecidos.
Khurram Parvez (Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP)
This press conference was held at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand on 07 December 2017. Speakers included:
Ng Shui Meng: Former Deputy Representative for UNICEF Laos 2000 to 2004; wife of Sombath Somphone
Charles Santiago: Member of Parliament, Selangor Malaysia; Chairperson, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
Anne-Sophie Gindroz: Former Country Director of Helvetas; author of “Laos, the Silent Repression”
Moderator: Phil Robertson, Deputy Director, Human Rights Watch Asia Division