Initiated by the Mekong Institute, an inter-governmental organization in the GMS, the Mekong Forum:

  • Brings together opinion leaders to discuss the most pressing issues facing the GMS;
  • Is known as an annual gathering in Khon Kaen, a city in the northeast of Thailand;
  • Is an integrated platform engaging business, academic and other leaders in collaborative efforts to shape the development agenda in the GMS; and
  • Is now being used by leaders, international organizations and scholars as a neutral platform to exchange ideas and build networks across the GMS.

Mekong Institute has successfully organized four Mekong Forums in the past. Various topics have been propelled into the spotlight, such as narrowing development gaps between the lesser developed ASEAN countries and other ASEAN states, enhancing regional cooperation and integration, and modernizing the GMS. Last year, the Mekong Forum zoomed in to the role of development partners in the region, discussing their invaluable role and contribution in sharing lessons learned, identifying future priority needs, and suggesting ways to advance effective development cooperation in the GMS for the years to come.

The world is becoming more multipolar. With this transition, great powers compete with each other through economic means, while regional powers play a larger neighborhood role. This sees a quest for political power between more-developed nation in the world, in what could be termed as the "new geo-economics". Caught in the middle of superpowers vying for global influence are the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) countries of Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand. The GMS economy, with a consumer and labor market of above 300 million and a combined GDP expected to exceed $1 trillion by 2020, is on the rise.

Yet the region’s potential extends beyond mere numbers. With more opportunities for trade and investment coming up, and foreign technical and financial assistance pouring in, the new geo-economics is already painting a picture of regional promise and prosperity. Add to this the increasing connectivity and greater economic integration happening along the Mekong Region and the GMS is set to enter a new era of growth and development.

But while the new geo-economics is expected to further contribute to this prosperity, it also poses some risks and challenges for the region along the way. A more volatile geopolitical environment endangers the region’s stability, with the increasing tension between the USA, the established global power, and China, East Asia’s rising power. Tensions are also simmering among Asia’s three major players, China, Japan and India, where flashpoints are at seas and over natural resources.

With the USA pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and the UK preparing to exit the European Single Market, there in an obvious shift to protectionism and individualism by Western countries. On the other hand, China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the US-South Korea Alliance is bringing Asian countries together like never before. This scenario of polar opposites and political imbalance puts GMS in a position of uncertainty, which may either hasten regional development or result in unfavorable socio-economic consequences.

While global and regional institutions are expected to manage tensions and contain conflict on trade and investment issues, they are largely absent on security matters in the region. This leaves an unstable balance of power, risking to compromise along with them the GMS’ economic growth.

The challenge, then, is to ensure continued economic advancement while undertaking effective political measures to lessen geopolitical volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. In this period of rising global geopolitical tensions, addressing the interaction between geopolitics, energy security and international economic trends, and their political and security implications, is of critical importance to help foster continued regional prosperity.

It is in this reality that Mekong Forum 2017 is grounded. With the theme “New Geo-economics: Reshaping the Future of the GMS?”, this year’s Mekong Forum aims to enhance a shared understanding of major global transformations and its effect to the GMS, to tackle ways on improving risk management for governments and businesses, and to discuss the increasing importance of regional and international cooperation in the light of the new geo-economics.



Pullman Khon Kaen Raja Orchid Hotel

Khon Kaen, Thailand

July 14, 2017


Members of the GMS countries, development practitioners, stakeholders, and executives or senior officials of development organizations, particularly those who are engaged at (GMS/ASEAN) regional level, are highly encouraged to join. The forum also targets to invite governmental/inter-governmental, non-government/civil society, private and non-profit developments organizations, research institutes, and academic institutes as well as support agencies within the region

  • Forum proceedings;
  • Action-oriented ideas and proposed programs, including development initiatives for further development of the GMS; and
  • Networks of participants who are interested and/or knowledgeable in the new geo-economics and its effect in future regional development.

Participants are requested to pay for their own international and domestic travel expenses, as well as accommodation. MI will provide for meals (coffee breaks and lunch) during the forum. Only the expenses of invited speakers and panelists will be shouldered by MI.

To register in the forum, please download the registration form uploaded at http:/mekongforum.com/ and send the completed form via email to mekongforum2017@mekonginstitute.org. The registration deadline is on June 30, 2017.


For more information, please contact Ms. Pornwilai Pumira, External Relations Manager, Mekong Institute at telephone number + 66 (0) 43 202 268-9 ext. 4152 or mobile number + 66 (0) 98 584 7446.