Trade Relations With US At Risk

June 2004
Asia Monitor: South East Asia Monitor Volume 1;Jun2004, Vol. 15 Issue 6, p7
Country Report
Country Report
Between 300 and 400 people from the Hmong ethnic group have surrendered to the government in Xieng Khouang province along with a further 300 near Luang Prabang in Laos, according to reports in March and April. Most of those who have surrendered are civilians although a number of high-ranking rebel leaders have surrendered too. Hmong communities appear to be responding to the combined effects of a government military campaign and promises of an amnesty, including offers of land. The US government is coming under pressure both in Congress and from the Lao diaspora living in the US not to grant normal trade relations status to Laos in light of the government's alleged actions towards the Hmong. While those in favour of the bill argue it will help advance market reforms in Laos, 22 legislators signed a letter opposing NTR on human rights grounds. Month-on-month inflation was negative in the fourth quarter mainly owing to seasonal falls in rice prices following the harvest. The main factors likely to keep inflation high include rising prices for agricultural commodities, including rice, a tendency for the exchange rate to depreciate leading to imported inflation, and weak fiscal and monetary management.


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