In November 2012, following a 60-year absence from Lao PDR, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland established a British Embassy in the capital, Vientiane, under Ambassador Philip Malone. High on his agenda was the intention to prioritise trade between the two countries. Three months later, Lao PDR joined the World Trade Organisation and this presented many trade opportunities in several sectors such as education, infrastructure, architecture and engineering design, garment manufacturing, mining and foreign investment.
The British Embassy re-opened on 02 April 2013 and a day later Ambassador Philip Malone opened discussions with British businesses and businessmen in Lao PDR about forming a British Business Group, and formalising the informal organisation that already existed.
In 2012, the UK was reported to have exported GBP 3.3 million value of goods to Lao PDR with GBP 38.6 million value exported from Lao PDR to the UK. Companies represented in Lao PDR and brands imported to Laos at that time were Land Rover, JCB, PriceWaterhouseCooper, KPMG, Rio Tinto and Standard Chartered Bank.
At that time Ambassador Malone recognised that hundreds of British nationals were working in various capacities in and around Lao PDR and operating in Small and Medium-sized Business Enterprises (SME). He expressed his hope that the British Business Group Lao PDR would grow and be a place where UK-based businesses and British citizens working in Lao PDR could collaborate and provide networking opportunities.
By 2015, after Ambassaor Malone had been replaced by Ambassador Hugh Evans, the UK Embassy was able to place stronger emphasis on forming an official British Business Group in Lao PDR. With the UK then part of the European Union, the Lao PDR Government considered that the informal association be permitted to exist as a non-profit organisation, though its objective was eventually to be the de facto British Chamber of Commerce in Lao PDR. Lord David Putnam, then the visiting UK Trade Envoy to Lao PDR, inaugurated the BBGL, as the informal association was to become known, in November 2015.
Following discussions with the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) and its President, Oudet Souvannavong, a decision was taken to formally register and license the British Business Group in Lao PDR. This was achieved on 05 February 2018 when BBGL received its official license to exist, valid for 5 years, to operate as a non-profit organisation.
In April 2020, the UK was reported to have a total trade in goods and services (exports plus imports) between the UK and Laos was £27 million in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2020, a change of less than £1 million from the four quarters to the end of Q3 2019. Of this £27 million, total UK exports to Laos amounted to £12 million in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2020 (a decrease of 7.7% or £1 million compared to the four quarters to the end of Q3 2019) and a total UK imports from Laos amounted to £15 million in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2020 (an increase of 7.1% or £1 million compared to the four quarters to the end of Q3 2019). Laos was the UK’s 171st largest trading partner in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2020 accounting for less than 0.1% of total UK trade