Mekong Institute (MI) conducted a one day regional workshop on East West Economic Corridor (EWEC) Database Update and E-commerce Promotion in Mae Sot, Tak province, Thailand on December 27, 2016. Representatives from private sector and government institutions from Tak province in Thailand and the neighbouring Kayin state in Myanmar attended the workshop. The workshop aimed to introduce the EWEC database to the business and regional institutional leaders of the two bordering provinces and seek cooperation from the regional business leaders and administration to update the database and promote e-commerce among the SMEs who are ready to scale up for their operations.
A total of thirty four participants attended the workshop with twelve participants from Myawaddy town of Kayin state of Myanmar and twenty two participants from Mae Sot of Tak province in Thailand representing Chambers of commerce, business associations and officials from government departments of both provinces.
Welcoming the participants attending the workshop, Mr. Madhurjya Kumar Dutta, Director of Trade and Investment Facilitation Department of MI, said, “E-commerce, in general, is attractive to all of us looking at the increasing volume of trade taking place using the e-commerce platform. While Thailand and other front-runner ASEAN economies are experiencing increased trade through e-commerce, the greater Mekong sub-region states will have to prepare themselves to take part in this growing trade- platform”. He informed the participants that the EWEC database, established in 2011 in the corridor provinces of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, has so far registered more than 1000 company profiles in EWECbiz.com with very good support received from provincial Chambers of Commerce, Business Associations and also local authorities. Though it has been a static database or directory so far, MI has decided to establish linkage with Alibaba.com as an e-commerce platform for the convenience of active trading companies, responding to the changing nature of business. He further added, “Earlier, e-commerce was mostly for retailing, but now it has emerged as the medium for data exchange, inventory and supply chain management, and collaboration among the trading partners”.
The workshop sessions were facilitated by 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 the 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 EWEC can be updated by 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 themselves from the risks of e-commerce.
In the concluding session, with support from translators, participants from both Thailand and Myanmar 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 drafted about their understanding and challenges of e-commerce and 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 of signing an MoU with the relevant Chambers of Commerce for effectively starting the database update work. In his concluding remark, Mr. Dutta thanked everyone for supporting the event and said to the participants, “We look forward to establishing the GMS database that will integrate all the corridors and a logistics database which will benefit all the logistic companies working in the region. With funding from different agencies, we work for you and it is you who will make these efforts successful to advance your respective economies with increased trade.”