Mekong Institute (MI) conducted the national consultations on “Enabling Regulatory Environment for Facilitating Cross-Border Trade (CBT) on East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC)” successfully in (i) Naypyidaw, Myanmar on February 21, 2017; (ii) Ha Noi, Viet Nam on March 3, 2017; (iii) Bangkok, Thailand on March 22, 2017; and (iv) Vientiane, Lao PDR on March 23, 2017; respectively. The four national consultations are an integral part of designed consultation process under the framework of the Regional and Local Economic Development Project on “Capacity Development for a More Inclusive and Equitable Growth, Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)” in six border provinces along the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) of the GMS, funded by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The workshops were designed and conducted by the Trade and Investment Facilitation Department of Mekong Institute.
A total of forty-six participants attended the national consultations, including ten in Naypyidaw, eleven in Vientiane, twenty-one in Bangkok, and four in Ha Noi, respectively. They represented SDC in Vientiane, Lao PDR; Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Thailand; national line ministries and agencies such as Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Finance (Customs), Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Khammouane Province; Tak Province; Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Board of Investment, Board of Trade, National Economic and Social Development Board and Federation of Industries of Thailand; Myanmar International Freight Forwarders’ Association (MIFFA); transport and logistics companies; and others.
The consultations addressed the relevant aspects of regulatory environment facilitation cross-border trade between the project provinces and along the EWEC with a focus on the three areas:
Cross-border trade facilitation covering the issues customs cooperation and border management through the implementation of SWI/SSI mechanism in harmonization of customs – quarantine – immigration (CQI) in each country and between the two provinces and countries, SPS measures, logistics development, private sector participation, and so on.
Technical cooperation in agriculture sector, including trade and investment promotion
Institutional development and coordination mechanism
Co-chairing the four events, Dr. Watcharas Leelawath, Executive Director, Mekong Institute (MI) stated the objectives of the national consultations to which MI brought the results of the consultations with Khammouane Province, Lao PDR – Nakhon Phanom Province, Thailand, and Kayin State, Myanmar – Tak Province, Thailand; and the policy dialogue between Quang Tri Province and Savannakhet Province, which was ended up with Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on March 2, 2017. To this end, MI expected to obtain further review of the provinces’ policy suggestions and priorities, and initiated action programs facilitating cross-border trade from the national line ministries and agencies and stakeholders of the four countries. As such, MI provided an interactive platform in each location where the stakeholders shared and updated information on transport and trade facilitation implementation progress, provided critical thinking on the policy and technical issues and their implementation and recommended priorities in support of cross-border trade along the EWEC both in short-term and long-term strategies. These will contribute to MI’s design of project interventions for the RLED-EWEC for the phase 2017–2019, in synergy with other development partner in support and promotion of cross-border trade along the EWEC.
Further to the national consultation, MI will organize a regional consultation with the Governments of Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam to address the regional issues in promoting regulatory environment facilitating cross-border trade in the GMS.