About Mekong Forum 2018


Growth thrives in momentum. But what happens when the current momentum is not enough?

The early 2000 saw the unexpected rise of the economies in Southeast Asia. This rise has seen countries such as Thailand move up from the list of low middle income countries to upper middle income economies. Likewise, with the pouring in of foreign technical and financial aid, neighboring countries like Cambodia, Myanmar, Lao PDR and Vietnam also made the jump to lower middle income status.

Yet dynamic and unprecedented changes taking place across the globe demand a growth pace that is faster than usual. This decade sees the Fourth Industrial Revolution upon us – a revolution that is said to radically transform the way we work, live and connect with one another. It is a revolution that puts innovation and the fusion of new technologies at the forefront. This revolution will transform systems, promising immense improvement in efficiency, but at the same time, requiring people and organizations to readily adapt technologies in order to fully capture their benefits.

Against such backdrop, there is a heavy challenge on the countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) to be agile and ready to compete. Thailand needs to move up from its upper middle income status. The rate of growth of Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar, while significantly better than several decades past, need a big boost in order to speed up the countries’ development. China, with its solid rise as an economic power in the sub-region and Asia, must continue proactive economic measures to ensure its continued progress.

Breakthrough technologies that will build up competitiveness of industries are needed in order to successfully compete with advanced economies offering high-skilled innovation. Alongside this, the development of human resources capacities in the region will address issues of skills mismatch.

The GMS needs a turnaround of its current momentum and prepare for a takeoff towards a more robust growth. This is a challenge that the Mekong Forum 2018 aspires to address.

This year’s Forum builds on the idea that innovation and synergistic cooperation are integral mechanisms to initiate much-needed economic turnaround and drive the region’s forward development. To speed up growth, investment in a strong technological innovation system is a must to enhance efficiency and enable stronger competitiveness. At the same time, it is critical to solidify development cooperation strategies grounded on inclusiveness and oriented towards improving connectivity and fostering regional and global ties.

With the theme Turnarounds and Takeoffs: Speeding Up Competitiveness and Connectivity, the Mekong Forum 2018 aims to encourage a more coherent understanding of the factors and conditions that limit the region’s growth momentum; explore ideas by which innovation can strengthen competitiveness; and deliberate on how countries in the region and beyond can better come together under the bannerof development cooperation to improve connectivity and work towards a common direction of regional prosperity.

Download the Mekong Forum 2018 Concept Note 


The growth leap in the GMS has been substantial as compared with decades past. But in a world driven by dynamic transformations and technologies coming out at breakneck speed, there is a recognized need to speed up the growth momentum. This session will explore the prevailing conditions, factors and challenges that limit GMS economies from advancing at a speed that meets the fast-changing needs of the region and the world.

Innovation has been identified as one of the cornerstones to advance entrepreneurship and competitiveness and catalyze economic progress. This session will expound on initiatives and mechanisms that will drive the development of innovation that will improve products and systems and enable people, enterprises and organizations to be efficient, agile and high-performing.

Ideas and solutions are not confined to geographical and political barriers, and if growth must be pursued, then an open and conducive space for sharing information, networks, strategies and lessons learned must be encouraged. This session will examine how development cooperation can be harnessed to promote a broader sharing of technology, spur growth and foster increased connectivity of peoples and communities in the GMS.


To join the Mekong Forum 2018, please fill out the registration form and email to:

Ms. Nguyen Thi Hong Anh

MEL Assistant, Mekong Institute

Tel. 66 (0) 43 202 268-9 ext. 1303

Email: mekongforum2018@mekonginstitute.org

 Ms. Natchaya Thawin

Executive Assistant, Mekong Institute

Tel. 66 (0) 43 202 268-9 ext. 1103

Email: mekongforum2018@mekonginstitute.org