ABOUT Austcham Lao

Structure and Administration

An elected board directs Austcham Lao PDR. Following the election of the board in December of each year, responsibilities are assigned to each board member. These are based on the measures considered necessary for the achievement of Austcham  Lao's strategic goals and may vary from year to year.


Board of Directors 2018

Chris Smithies

President, Austcham Lao

Chris is the Country Manager of Earth Systems, a multidisciplinary environmental and social consulting firm, which develops and implements innovative and effective environment, water and sustainability solutions throughout the world. Chris is an environmental and social scientist with a varied professional background, having worked predominantly in project management roles in the horticultural and construction industries before becoming a professional consultant.

In his role on the AustCham Board, Chris is keen to help strengthen relationships between AustCham Lao members and local as well as regional business communities.

Kristy Newby

Vice President, Austcham Lao

Kristy is the Managing Director of DFDL Lao PDR and the Head of the Rgional Mining Division for the firm. She has more than 12 years experience practicing as a solicitor in Australia, the Lao PDR and Vietnam. in the Lao PDR, Kristy has substantial experience advising potential investors and existing operators in a variety of sectors on corporate and commercial matters, mergers and acquisitions and project financing.

Kristy is recognized in Laos as a "Leading Individual" in Legal 500 (Asia Pacific) and a "Market-Leading Lawyer" in AsiaLaw profiles.


Rufus Pinto

Treasurer, Austcham Lao

Rufus is an experienced financial services executive having worked across a few geographies and with some of the largest financial services organisations. In his current role as CEO ANZ Laos, Rufus has overall responsibility for the bank's franchise in Laos.

Rufus considers his interest academic; having completed Bachelors of Commerce; MBA; a post graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and currently in his last leg of finishing his CPA.

Viboon Sithimolada

Director, Austcham Lao

Viboon is the CEO of XangLao, an engineering and construction firm based in Vientiane. He has many years of experience in the mining and energy sector in Laos. He holds a BEng (Hons 1st Class) from RMIT, Australia and a MSc in Electrical and Computer Engineering from UIUC, IL, USA.

Troy Noskoff

Director, Austcham Lao

Troy is the Head of Retail banking at BFL BRED Group.

Angus J Henderson / Paul Harris

Director, Austcham Lao

Angus works at MMG Limited as the ASEA Regional Manager - Commercial, accountable for commercial, finance and strategy areas of the ASEA region. With a chemical engineering background and a strong foundation in business evaluation, funding, accounting & finance, he is well placed to assist the board in 2018.

Paul Harris is the Operations Manager at MMG Limited.


Alan McCaw

Director, Austcham Lao

Alan is the Country Manager of the Rio Tinto operations in Lao PDR.

Souphaphone Souannavong

Director, Austcham Lao

Ms Souphaphone is the founder and managing director of TOHLAO co-working space. She also has extensive experience in financial and banking industry, having been involved in various market envirnoments since 2006.

Jonathan Parker

Director, Austcham Lao

Jonathan is the Supply Manager of the Pan Aust Phu Bia operations in Lao PDR.

Anna Forsén

Executive Director, Austcham Lao

As Executive Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Laos,  Anna liaises with Australian and international business, government and non government organizations, to help Austcham's member companies operate successfully in Laos. Austcham develops and sustains key partnerships, provides business development services, represent's members to government and key stakeholders and provides essential networking opportunities to its members.

The Lao People's Democratic Republic

Lao PDR Map



Location: Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam.

Area: 236,800 sq km

Population: 6,477,211 (July 2011 est.)

GDP: US$ 7.9 billion (2011 est.)

Local Currency: Lao Kip



Laos is a least developed country that has a GDP PPP in of approximately $17.44 billion USD and a population of approximately 6.44 million people (2011). The makeup of the economy consists mainly of agriculture which is primarily rice cultivation that contributes to 30% of GDP and 75% of total employment. Other prominent sectors include tourism, mining and hydroelectric power and their associated service industries. Australian and New Zealand based companies play a significant role in these areas providing both financial and intellectual capital.

As a least developed country Laos enjoys a range of tariff reductions for export into Australia, New Zealand and many other more developed economic regions which provides a number of opportunities for investment and business development. As a member of the ASEAN community Laos has signed up to the ASEAN Free Trade Area agreement (AFTA) which will provide a platform for economic cooperation and improvement in the area based on common goals for growth and prosperity. A number of other key entities around the world are also forming links with the ASEAN group to encourage economic links and reduced barriers to business development; these include Australia and New Zealand, China, South Korea, The European Union, India and others.

See also