Mekong Institute (MI) successfully conducted a one-day workshop on East – West Economic Corridor (EWEC) Business Database Upgrade and Promotion of E-commerce in Thakhek, Khammouane province, Lao PDR on December 14, 2016. The workshop was part of the framework of the Regional and Local Economic Development Project titled, Capacity Development for a More Inclusive and Equitable Growth in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), funded by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The workshop aimed to improve the functionality and sustainability of the EWEC database and to foster e-commerce for the competitiveness of SMEs along the East-West Economic Corridor focusing two bordering provinces - Khammouane province, Lao PDR and Nakhon Phanom Province, Thailand.
Over 26 participants attended the workshop representing Departments of Industry and Commerce, Departments of Agriculture Development Cooperative, Rural Development, Agriculture and Forestry and Quarantine offices, Department of Transport, Department of Foreign Affairs, Customs Department, Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and Business Associations, and SMEs / Exporters and Importers of Khammouane province, Lao PDR, and Nakhon Phanom province, Thailand.
In his welcome remark, Mr. Thongxay Mangnormek, Director of Industry and Commerce Department of Khammouane Province, Lao PDR said that the major trade and investment areas in Khammouane province were industry, agriculture and tourism. He said, “Khammouane province is geographically located in the middle of the Lao PDR. It has a great potential in products like rice (the province has four big rice-millers) which is already been exported to Thailand and Vietnam. The province hosts a dam which produces water-based electricity and exports that to Thailand. The road-network in Khammouane is more developed compared to the rest of the Lao PDR to support increased trade and tourism. The amount of import has also increased after completion of the bridge over the Mekong”. Hoping for further cooperation among the businesses in two bordering provinces, he informed that there is a number of Lao workers who are employed in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. The airport in Nakhon Phanom is also heavily used for passenger transport to Khammouane”. He also said in recent areas investment figure is also impressive in Khammuane amounting 3000 mill. USD in 2015. The friendship bridge has opened up further opportunities to cooperate in trade like in value addition in selected products on the both side of the Mekong river.
The workshop sessions were facilitated by TIF internal staff of MI and two special sessions were conducted by external e-commerce expert Dr. Mayuree Srikulwong from the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce. During the first session in the morning, the participants were introduced to different features of EWEC database and were guided on how they can register and amend their details through different categories of accounts. In the second session, participants were divided into two groups to discuss among themselves how the EWEC can be updated through gathering information from different sources. During the third session in the afternoon, Dr. Mayuree briefed the audience about trading with Alibaba.com and how a trader can benefit from e-commerce and shield from the risks of e-commerce.
In the concluding session, participants both from Thailand and Laos were guided in four different groups composed of government and private sector counterparts in both provinces. The private sector participants filled out their questionnaire profiling the major trading items and volumes of their concerned business and the challenges they might face in registering into e-commerce. The government sector counterparts from both provinces registered their understanding and challenges of e-commerce and drafted how they felt about promoting the e-commerce under the existing legal and regulatory environment.
Through this workshop, participants gained practical understanding of interactive database and e-commerce and their roles in promoting the EWEC database and e-commerce platform in their respective provinces. MI is now in the process to sign MoU with the relevant Chambers of Commerce for effectively starting the database update work. Mr. In his closing remark, Mr. Sa-nga Sattyanam, Program Manager, MI, thanked everyone for their participation and enthusiasm in the workshop and hoped to start the field work soon to update the database with the cooperation from the regional stakeholders.