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 2017

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.

Paul Harris

Vice President, Austcham Lao

Paul is the Operations Manager at MMG Limited in Laos. Paul is a mining engineer with over 20 years of experience working in various technical and managerial roles throughout Australia, Papua New Guinea, and now Laos.



Andrew Tan

Treasurer, Austcham Lao

Andrew is the Treasurer of Austcham Lao and the Executive Director at BDO (Laos) Co. He is also the founder of Pay+, Lao's first fintech with an interest in the payments and remittance space.

Steve Goddard

Joint Secretary, Austcham Lao

Steve is the Country Manager at Arion Legal. He is an Australian qualified solicitor, with special interest and expertise in laws and policies related to economic development and natural resources management in the Asia Pacific region.

Kristy Newby

Joint Secretary, Austcham Lao

Kristy is the Country Manager of DFDL Legal. She is an Australian qualified lawyer with more than 10 years experience in Australia and the South East Asia region

Angus J Henderson

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 2017.

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.

Michael Simcock

Director, Austcham Lao

A long term resident in Laos, Michael is currently the General Manager for Whessoe, a large Engineering company involved in the Hydro, Oil and Gas industries. Prior to this Michael held the positions of Operations Manager for Ord River Resources in the South of Lao then the General Manager of Sirisin, who are a large Civil/Earth Moving Contractor who held large contracts at Sepon Mine. He has had vast experiences in Lao PDR dealing with High Level Government, General Consulting as well a regular participant in the Expat scene in Lao.

Jonathan Parker

Director, Austcham Lao

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

Elissa Taylor

Executive Director, Austcham Lao

As Executive Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Laos, Elissa 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