Trade and Investment Facilitation

Sustainable and Inclusive Economic Growth for Regional Cooperation and Integration

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.

Our Aim

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. 


  • Strengthens capacities of governments and the private sector in trade promotion and investment facilitation
  • Supports the integration of SMEs into regional and global value chains
  • Enhances competitiveness of the logistics sector
  • Creates business information service platforms to widen networking among business groups and companies in local, regional, and international markets
  • Promotes foreign direct investments and other business links


  • 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 

Development Projects


1. Joint Development of Cross-Border Special Economic Zones (SEZs)

(Supported by: Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund; Duration: 2018-2021)

The project aims to promote SEZs in the Lancang Mekong countries and coordination among them, boost trade and investment both from within and outside the Mekong sub-region, improve supply chain, upgrade production base, facilitate and enhance trade, as well as reduce poverty, and better the livelihood of the people.

2. Upgrading Border Facilitation for Trade and Logistics Development

(Supported by: Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund; Duration: 2018-2021)

The project aims to facilitate cross-border trade by increasing the capacity for commerce and reducing the costs faced by traders within Lancang-Mekong region; and enhancing connectivity and improving competitiveness across international borders though improvements in infrastructure focused on facilitating cross-border trade and investment.

3. Export Capacity Support for Small Exporters from Asia-Pacific (ECSAF) Least Developed Countries in Specialty Agro-food Value Chains

(Supported by: International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada; Duration: 2017-2018)

The project targets SMEs in specialty food sector in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar to build their capacities to access export market. This will be achieved through providing training, one-on-one consultations, advisory support and market familiarization missions to Canada for selected SMEs. The objective is to strengthen their market research capacities, encourage peer exchange among exporters and connect them with Canadian buyers.

4. GMS Transport Information Connectivity

(Supported by: P.R. China; Duration: Duration: 2017-2018)

The project aims to streamline the transport information system, enhance the transport information networks and develop an integrated transport information platform with an effective information-sharing mechanism among the GMS countries. Overall, this targets on supporting the further development of the three main economic corridors under the GMS cooperation framework.

5. Green Freight and Logistics Development in Mekong Countries

(Supported by: Republic of Korea; Duration: 2018-21)

The long term objective of the project is to reduce cost of logistics and transport for improvement in economic performance in the Mekong countries. This will eventually aid the transport sector to increase its contribution to economic development in the Mekong countries as well as reduce its carbon footprint.

6. Sustainable Freight and Logistics in the Greater Mekong Subregion

(Supported by: Switch Asia Fund of the European Union; Duration: 2016-2018)

The project aims to increase sustainable freight transport and logistics in at least 500 small and medium enterprises (SME) in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand (CLMVT). In order to improve the fuel efficiency and thus the environmental footprint of freight transport operations in the region, the project works with local companies, freight associations, banks and the national governments on actions like eco-driving, better maintenance, adoption of fuel-saving technologies, enhanced access to finance for truck upgrades, green freight labeling and national action plans.

7. The Competitiveness of Lao Enterprises in ASEAN

(Supported by GIZ; Duration: 2018-2019)

The six-month research study intends to gain an insight knowledge regarding the competitiveness of Lao enterprises in selected sectors in the ASEAN context. More specifically, it seeks to grasp the situation of Lao enterprises in specific sectors whether they have the ability to compete with business firms in the regional level and to identify the potential sectors in which Lao enterprises might become competitive in the ASEAN market.

8. Rural E-Commerce Development in Greater Mekong Sub-region

(Supported by: Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund; Duration: 2018-2020)

The project aims to enhance the awareness of the rural e-commerce development in the Lancang Mekong countries though modular trainings and initiate actions. The specific objectives are to enhance the understanding of the potential of rural e-commerce development; identify the key intervention areas for each country in the Lancang-Mekong region and explore online business prospects through different e-commerce opportunities.

9. Lancang- Mekong Business Forums

(Supported by: Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund; Duration: 2018-2023)

The aim of the project is to conduct a series of business forums to facilitate business networking among Lancang-Mekong countries to enhance the competitiveness of the SMEs through by establishing business linkages among the Lancang Mekong countries businesses; assisting SMEs to integrate in the Regional and Global Value Chain (R-GVC); exchanging information on state- of-the-art technology and innovative products to push forward the industrial growth and promote investment through business collaboration with the local SMEs in the Lancang-Mekong countries.

10. Monitoring of the Early Harvest CBTA Implementation in GMS countries

(Supported by: Asian Development Bank; Duration: 2018-2019)

The one year assignment monitored the ‘Early Harvest’ implementation and consolidation of feedback to the National Transport Facilitation Committees (NTFC) and CBTA Joint Committee by mobilizing quantitative and qualitative data and feedback on the perceived benefits and challenges facing the CBTA in GMS countries (Cambodia, P.R. China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand).

11. Capacity Building for National Coordinators of Mekong-Lancang Cooperation

(Supported by: Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Special Fund; Duration: 2019-2020)

The project seeks to strengthen the coordination mechanism among nodal and related agencies in the region to ensure that Mekong-Lancang countries can fulfill the strategies of the cooperation framework. To achieve this, a range of capacity building activities including trainings, forums, structured learning visits, as well as research on the key coordination issues of the MLC's priority areas will be carried out.

12. Mekong Korea Cooperation Fund (MKCF)-funding mechanism to support projects in six priority areas in the five Mekong countries

The department is responsible for the management of the Mekong-Korea Cooperation Fund (MKCF) established at Mekong Institute by the Republic of Korea to fund projects in the Mekong countries. As fund manager, MI is responsible for the evaluation of the project proposals (technical and financial) from the proponents in the Mekong countries, coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Mekong countries and the Republic of Korea; monitoring of the progress of the projects, and reporting to Mekong RoK Senior Official Meeting.

13. Sustainable and Smart Tourism Development in the Mekong Region

(Supported by the Mekong-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund; Duration: 2020-2023)

The project aims to create “smart cities” to strengthen Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand's capacities in meeting the fast-rising and highly competitive tourism inbound market. With support from each country's National Tourism Organizations and local destination management companies, the three-year project will introduce smart tourism tools, techniques, and technologies through learning exchanges, structured learning visits, information-sharing, and adaption of best practices. Such investments are geared to expand small entrepreneurial businesses and deepen cultural interconnectedness and appreciation among and between cities in the Republic of Korea and the Mekong region countries.

14. Sustainable and Smart Agricultural Supply Chain Development in Mekong Countries

(Supported by the Mekong-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund; Duration: 2021-2023)

The project aims to improve production effectiveness and efficiency, reduce post - harvest losses, and increase energy efficiency in agricultural supply chains through cold chain development and smart and sustainable technologies in post-COVID situation in five Mekong countries namely Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. To achieve this, the project will be carried out for 18 months (or one and haft year) to provide capacity development for stakeholders and beneficiaries through a series of activities including assessment study with field data collection through Focus Group Discussion and Key Informant Interview, consultative meeting, training, workshop and forum.

recently completed

1. Sustainable Transport and Logistics Planning and Management

(Supported by: Trade Policy and Strategy Office, Ministry of Commerce, Thailand; Duration: September 25, 2017 to October 6, 2017)

MI’s “Regional Training cum Business Networking on Sustainable Transport and Logistics Planning and Management” deepened the skills of 55 senior and mid-level officials from government and the private sector on transport and logistics management. From September 25, 2017 to October 6, 2017, officials were exposed to the principles of transport service quality and energy-saving initiatives, as well as effective logistics strategies in the movement and storage of goods and services to and from countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion. The training, through its knowledge-sharing sessions, also fostered deeper trade relations between Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

2. Making Trade Work for Small Producers in Southeast Asia’s Least Developed Countries - Promoting Women Entrepreneurship for Export Business

(Supported by: IDRC, Canada; Duration: 2017-2018)

The one-year action research project on “Making Trade Work for Small Producers in Southeast Asia’s Least Developed Countries” was designed to train existing and prospective women entrepreneurs in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) to help them develop and strengthen entrepreneurial qualities and motivation to expand their business for the regional and global market. It aimed to achieve this by providing necessary knowledge and information on business management, finance, and marketing, sources of assistance, incentives, subsidies, rules and regulations. It also had a goal to promote the SME sector for business growth for employment generation.

3. Enhancing SME competitiveness in Southern Economic Corridor (SEC)

(Supported by: ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership; Duration: February 2016-January 2018)

The project aimed to enhance the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises to conduct cross border trade and investment and help them integrate into cross-border industrial clusters, regional and global value chain. The project was implemented in 17 provinces along the SEC in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

4. Certified Logistics Master Project

(Supported by: Republic of Korea; Duration: 2014-2017)

The project aimed to improve cross-border and trans-shipment logistics services through capacity development and accreditation of SME logistics service providers in Thailand, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia.

5. Trade-related Training Curriculum Development

(Supported by: World Bank; Duration: December 2015 – July 2016)

The project developed 16 training packages on trade-related subjects and introduced ToT courses for the officials of the Ministry of Commerce, Cambodia.

6. Integrating CLMV Economies (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam) into ASEAN Economic Community

(Supported by: New Zealand Aid Programme; Duration: 2012 – 2015)

The project focused on SME cluster development and Free Trade agreements (FTA) utilization by SMEs for integration into regional and global value chains through a series of capacity development activities including action research, trainings, policy research and dialogues, regional investor forum and structured learning visits.

7. Enhancing Provincial and Local Chambers of Commerce Capacities in Trade and Investment Facilitation along the GMS North-South Economic Corridor in PR China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand

(Supported by: ASEAN China Cooperation Fund; Duration: 2013 – 2015)

The project focused on SME development and trade facilitation through training and database development.

8. Development Potential of the International Shipping on the Lancang-Mekong River

(Supported by: China Central Government; Duration: 2014-2016)

The project analyzed the development trend of the international shipping and the connection and competition between international shipping and other modes of transport in P.R. China, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand. The study also proposed opportunities for international shipping along Mekong-Lancang and other trade capacity building activities.

9. Private Sector Development in the East West Economic Corridor (EWEC)

(Supported by: Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund; Duration: 2011-2013)

The project focused on enhancing capacities of the chamber of commerce and provincial departments of trade and commerce to facilitate trade and investment in the EWEC in Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The project activities included a series of capacity building activities including research, trainings, workshops, policy dialogues, trade events and structured learning visits.

10. Survey on Regional Cooperation Frameworks in the Mekong Subregion

(Supported by: Association for Overseas Technical Cooperation and Sustainable Partnerships; Duration: January 2020 to May 2020)

The four-month research study was designed to help streamline existing regional cooperation mechanisms in the Mekong subregion for stronger operation and development synergies. With support from the Association for Overseas Technical Cooperation and Sustainable Partnerships, MI detailed focus areas, priorities, progress, and achievements of 14 cooperation mechanisms, as well as their respective implementation processes. From the vigorous qualitative analyses, MI also recommended emerging development trends and needs the Government of Japan can consider contributing to in infrastructure, transport connectivity, sustainable management of water resources, among others, to deepen Mekong-Japan cooperation.

For more details, please contact

Mr. Madhurjya Kumar Dutta


Trade and Investment Facilitation Department

Mekong Institute for Development & Cooperation

Khon Kaen, Thailand, 40002


Phone: +66 (0) 4320 2411-2 Ext . 4061