The Business to Government (B2G) Dialogue on Cross-Border Trade Facilitation (CBTF) between Tak, Thailand and Myawaddy, Myanmar was held in Mae Sot on April 25, 2019. Around 100 stakeholders from both public and private sectors engaged in discussions toward seamless trade and strengthened collaboration between the two provinces.
Drawing from a previous Business to Business (B2B) meeting in February, the dialogue aimed at strategizing concrete steps to resolve trade-related issues and further lay foundations for enabling environments. Among the key issues focused on enhancing efficiency and transparency of cross-border transactions including issuance of licenses and permits, taxation and regulations, import-export procedures, and border operations.
Local government leaders and officials from the border provinces, including Mr. Somchai Kitchareanrungroj, Vice Governor of Tak Province, Thailand, and Mr. Than Naing, State Minister of Planning, Finance and Development of Kayin State, Myanmar, expressed support for furthering CBTF. In his opening speech, Mr. Kitchareanrungroj shared that the export value between 2013 and 2017 continuously increased at an average of 15 to 35 percent per year. By the end of 2018, cross-border trade generated a total value of THB 80,000 million. “These figures translate to promising opportunities – from both supply and demand sides. With this, I encourage everyone to provide their inputs for an even more successful cross-border trade implementation,” he said. Likewise, Mr. Naing underscored the potentials of cross-border trade by stating: “As the second largest border in Myanmar, Myawaddy plays a key role in generating income and livelihood. Not only can it contribute to overall economic progress, it can also help strengthen diplomatic relations between the two countries.” The officials acknowledged that a sound compromise is essential in addressing existing bottlenecks and ensuring CBTF efforts complement both provinces.
In this regard, the meeting also tackled proposals and recommendations on pushing CBTF forward. Priority areas include improving infrastructure and public services and operations of border gates; lessening barriers for trade (import quota and seasonal import restrictions of agricultural products); increasing number of eligible banks serving cross-border trade in Myawaddy, etc. Proposals, which are beyond the authorities of the provincial levels, will be further proposed to the higher level or responsible platforms.
Dr. Watcharas Leelawath, MI Executive Director, emphasized cross-border trade as a strategic goal shared by the six GMS countries. “Similar to other border provinces along EWEC, the cooperation between Tak and Myawaddy is invaluable in boosting trade efficiency and competitiveness. Through an open and constructive exchange, we aim to jointly improve trade, logistics, and customs procedures from which both countries can reap economic and social benefits,” he stated. Dr. Leelawath also expressed appreciation for the turnout of the dialogue and reiterated Mekong Institute’s continuous support and active involvement in translating this process into tangible results.
The B2G Dialogue was organized by MI’s RLED-EWEC Project, with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and co-hosted by the Tak Chamber of Commerce and Myawaddy Chamber of Commerce and Industry along with the respective provincial governments.