Removal of trade barriers has contributed to the expansion of global trade in the recent years and the bilateral and multilateral trade agreements further accentuated the importance of trade facilitation process. This gave the opportunity for producers to offer their goods and services to more customers and consumers have more choices, lower prices and access to innovations. Open markets increased the prospects of producing and selling new ideas and products locally, regionally and in global markets, which leads to more income opportunities and the improvement of living standards.
Trade facilitation can provide important opportunities for GMS countries by increasing the benefits from open trade and contributing to economic growth and poverty reduction. The development of economic corridors in the Greater Mekong Sub region (GMS) and integration initiatives such as ASEAN Economic Community (AEC 2015) highlights the importance of complementary measures related to policies and institutions in regional trade. It is widely acknowledged that; for GMS countries to have better market access to global trade are insufficient unless the capabilities to trade are addressed more timely and effectively. While the economic philosophies in the GMS countries have changed to become more market oriented, there is a constant shortage of capacities in the Government and Private sector organizations involved in trade and investment promotion activities to meet with the requirements of up adequate knowledge and information to participate effectively in the globalization process.
The aim of the Trade and Investment Facilitation Division is not simply to expand trade but also to focus on the broader goal of sustainable and inclusive economic growth for regional cooperation and integration. The expectation is that economic growth becomes a catalyst for poverty reduction by creating more and broad-based job and income opportunities. For achieving this, the Trade and Investment Facilitation Division efforts focus mostly on establishing a fostering environment for SMEs by addressing the entire trade value chain through engaging with Business associations, Chamber of Commerce and Government agencies involved in Trade and SME development in the GMS countries.
The thrust areas of Trade & Investment Facilitation Division are:
- Strengthening local Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Business associations along economic corridors to promote intra and inter corridors trade and investment.
- Enhance utilization of Free Trade Agreements by SMEs for access to export market.
- Integration of SMEs in regional and Global value chain though promotion of SME product clusters and SME consortia.
- Business networking through development business data base of members of Chamber of commerce and business associations in GMS countries.
- Product market intelligence for SMEs entry into export market.
- Improve trade negotiation skills and trade policy development
- Logistic sector development by promoting certified Logistic professionals.
- Design and coaching on need based capacity building programmes for specific target groups in the Government and private sector particularly the Chamber of Commerce and Business associations.
- Conduct action research and policy research on trade, SME and logistic development.
- Inform policy makers on current trends, issues on trade and investment through policy dialogues and forums.
- Conduct structured learning visits for Business to Business development.
- Promote regional integration through networking and other regional and sub regional cooperation initiatives in trade and investment.
- Follow an impact creating project approach though modular based training and Training the trainers.
Private Sector Development Projects
1. Enhancing Competitiveness of SMEs in the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC) of ASEAN Mekong Sub-region
(Donor: Japan ASEAN Integration Fund; Duration: 2016-2018)
The project provides opportunities for public and private investors from other ASEAN member countries to expand their production and market bases to the GMS countries to promote ASEAN economic integration. Farmers-led business enterprises, local producers, processors, traders on rural and border towns of SEC are the direct beneficiaries. The project has three components including: (i). Capacity development for SME clusters/networks; (ii).Trade and Investment Promotion through Public and Private Partnerships; (iii). Enhancement of Business Development Service Providers (BDSPs). A variety of events are designed under the project, covering trainings, SME clusters and export consortia development, investor forum, technical assistance, local dissemination workshops, learning visits and researches.
2. Certified Logistics Master Project
(Donor: Republic of Korea; Duration: 2014-2017)
The objective of the project is to improve cross-border and trans-shipment logistics services through capacity development (trainings and action plan implementations) and accreditation of local logistics providers. This will result in decreasing cross-border logistics cost, improving quality and timely services of local logistics providers on the GMS economic corridors and integrating the local logistics providers into sub-regional, regional and global logistics chains.
GMS Losgistics Database Development
The database aims to promote and facilitate business and trade among the logistic companies and members of GMS FRETA and logistics association in GMS region. The database will comprise of 2000 company profiles of transport and logistic companies. The database will also include logistic agreements, regulations and other important announcements. A mobile application function will be added to use on smart phone systems. Both database and mobile application will be launched in February 2017.
3. Sustainable Freight Transport and Logistics in the Mekong Region.
(Donor: European Union; Duration 2016-2018)
The project aims to increase sustainable freight and logistics in the Mekong Region through improved productivity, environmental performance/emissions reduction and occupational health and safety in the logistics sector covering 500 SMEs. The project is implemented in partnership with GIZ and FRETA in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The project duration is three years (2016-2018).
4. Development Potential of the International Shipping on the Lancang – Mekong (LM) River” (Donor: Central government of PR China; Duration 2014-2016)
The research study focused on the current navigational channel, river and port infrastructure; identification of development potential for enhancing the international waterborne navigation in Lancang Mekong river. The study adopted a consultation process by engaging the stakeholders in China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand throughout the study. The study results were shared at a dissemination workshop in Kunming.
5. Trade Training Curriculum Development Project
(Donor: World Bank; Duration December 2015- July 2016)
Training curriculum on 16 topics covering SME Development; Trade Promotion; International Trade Law and Trade Facilitation have been completed, trained officials of the Ministry of Commerce, Cambodia through four ToTs.
6. Capacity Development for Integrating CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) economies into ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)
(Donor: New Zealand Aid Program; Duration: 2012 -2016)
The project aimed to contribute narrowing the development gap of new ASEAN members through the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) integration by (i) moving farmers from subsistence to commercial farming (e.g., introducing Good Agricultural Practices and diversification to raise incomes and reduce risks); (ii) promoting rural non-farm employment (e.g., by promoting value-adding agriculture processing activities and the development of SMEs in rural areas through value-chain integration); and (iii) providing of essential trade facilitation and business development services that increases access to good practices, markets, information, finance, insurance and reduces transaction costs. Farmers, small-scale producers and SMEs are the ultimate targeted beneficiaries of this project. The project included a series of capacity building programs including training, workshops, Structured Learning Visits (SLV), action research, multi-stakeholder dialogues, SME cluster and export consortia development.
7. Capacity Development for a More Equitable and Inclusive Economic Growth in the GMS
(Donor: Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation; Duration: 2013-2017 Phase I)
The three-year pilot project aims to contribute to rapid local economic development and inclusive growth along the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) of the GMS. The project attempts to meet two main challenges in regional development, i.e. a) how to fully integrate less-developed areas of the EWEC with the more developed areas so that they can obtain meaningful benefits from the development of the corridor and b) how to prepare small-holder farmers and SMEs to access regional and global markets and compete in liberalized markets under the AEC. The project has selected three entry agricultural commodities of rice (Khammouane province, Lao PDR), maize (Kayin state, Myanmar) and coffee (Quang Tri province, Vietnam) to pilot the MI approach. The Trade and Investment facilitation Department provides technical advisory services for two important components of this project on SME Clusters Development and Promotion for Business Development Services in the three project locations above.
8. Enhancing Provincial and Local Chambers of Commerce Capacities in Trade and Investment Facilitation along the GMS North-South Economic Corridor
(Donor: ASEAN China Cooperation Fund and Yunnan Government; Duration: 2013-2015)
The project aims to promote local and regional economic development through trade and investment facilitation and public – private partnership initiatives. Based on a need assessment study, a series of capacity building activities have been implemented to enhance the competitiveness of Chambers of Commerce and Industries (CCIs) and SMEs in access to market, conducting business research for database development, trade event promotions, structured business visits for trade and investment promotion, so as to better integrate into cross-border industrial clusters, regional and global value chains. As a result, the project has expanded network among CCIs and SMEs along the NSEC with the enhanced capacities.
9. Enhancing Provincial and Local Chambers of Commerce Capacities in Trade and Investment Facilitation in the EWEC
(Donor: Japan ASEAN Integration Fund; Duration: 2010-2013)
The project focused on SME development through trade and investment facilitation along the East West Economic Corridor (EWEC) through capacity development activities including training, cross-border value chain analysis and mapping, policy dialogues, regional trade events and SLVs. It covered 11 provinces along the EWEC, comprising of Myewaddy and Mawlamyine in Myanmar; Tak, Phitsanulok, Khon Kaen, Kalasin, Mukdahan in Thailand; Savannakhet In Lao PDR; Quang Tri, Hue and Da Nang in Vietnam. As a result, EWEC private sector development repository system has been set up with the increased inter- and intra-trade and investment in and between the provinces above.
10. Mekong - ROK Cooperation Fund
(Donor: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Korea; Duration: 2014-2020)
MI- Trade and Investment Facilitation Department serves as the Secretariat for projects under the Mekong – RoK funded projects, including (i) collecting proposals for MKCF funded projects in five Greater Mekong Sub-regional countries (CLMVT-Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand) and Korea; (ii) circulating the proposals to the senior official meeting members to review and approve; (iii) managing and disbursing the fund to the approved projects; (iv) and monitoring and reviewing the funded projects. The fund provides grants to support catalytic and innovative activities in the six priority sectors: Infrastructure, ICT, Human Resources Development, Green Growth, Water Resource Development, Agriculture and Rural development, targeting the groups of non-governmental organizations, private sector bodies (business associations, cooperatives), academic institutions, and training institutes and government agencies of CLMVT. The annual budget is 1 million USD which will be increased to 3 million USD from 2017.