The economy of Laos is based around primary industry, with a large focus on agriculture. However, in recent years, the country has begun exporting mineral and other resources and has been the target of foreign investment, factors which have pushed forward the country's economic development. Furthermore, as the infrastructure linking the Mekong River countries continues to develop, new possibilities are opening up for Laos as a transit point for trade. In light of these developments, the function of the National Economic Research Institute (NERI) is growing increasingly important as the major institute, which conduct economic monitoring and provide basic data that the government can use to formulate economic policy,. However, the institute is suffering from a shortage of necessary know-how, technology, and personnel.
In this project, the National Economic Research Institute (NERI) will receive guidance from experts from Japan and ASEAN countries with a view to developing indices necessary for short term economic forecasts and designing surveys for collection of index-related data. In addition, survey staff in various locations around Laos will be given training in conducting surveys; staffs at the NERI and other institutions involved will be provided with chances to strengthen their research and data analysis capacity. By so doing, the project aims to improve the quality of reports based on short term economic findings. The data collected through the survey as well as analysis results will be presented at quarterly meetings attended by persons from relevant ministries and research organizations. Moreover, Laotian participants will be given opportunities to conduct study tours in Japan and ASEAN countries. These activities combined are expected to promote understanding, information sharing and cooperation in the relevant field.
In a six month period during the first year of the three-year project, the following activities will be carried out.
- Survey/research activities (October to March):
The following surveys and research will be carried out under the guidance of experts from Japan, Malaysia and other countries.
- (1) Policy issue surveys:
Surveys will be carried out in line with a policy issue agenda set quarterly. Results will be compiled into a report to be incorporated into an economic report, published quarterly.
- (2) Short-term economic index surveys:
After developing indices of export and employment and setting the survey methodology (October to December), survey areas will be identified, survey staffs will be trained, then the survey itself will be carried out. Data collected will be integrated and analyzed at NERI.
- (3) Basic research:
Basic research will be conducted into long-term economic survey techniques and development of forecasting models. The current project year will be spent primarily on studying the methodologies and frameworks.
- Workshops and forums
- (1) Workshops:
Workshops for the implementation of the survey in the above (1) will be held over the course of approximately one month under the guidance of experts from overseas.
- (2) Public forum:
A public forum will be held to present the indices developed through the project to staff from relevant ministries and organizations.
- Study Tour (February 2011, Japan)
- (1) Participants:
government officials, approximately eight elected representatives
- (2) Duration:
About 10 days
- (3) Description:
Project participants will visit the central bank, government agencies and research institutes to gain experience in economic policy-making.
This project administers quarterly economic surveys, develops economic indicators and conducts study tours to Japan and other countries in an effort to improve the capabilities of people involved in running the economy in Laos. This year, a survey of trade and employment trends was conducted. In addition, with the help of Japanese specialists, basic research was conducted on developing economic forecasting tools. As a result of these efforts, the basic form of a forecasting model was created, and preparations were made toward trial implementation beginning next year. Training in Japan involved learning about Japan's economic forecasting systems at the Cabinet Office's Economic and Social Research Institute, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications' Statistic Bureau, the University of Tokyo, the Japan Center for Economic Research and other institutions.
National Economic Research Institute (NERI) (Laos)
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