Mekong region business summit launched

09:26 | 18/04/2018 Society

(VEN) - The first Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Business Summit opened in Hanoi on March 30 as part of the sixth GMS Summit (GMS-6) and the 10th Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Development Triangle Summit (CLV-10). The GMS Business Summit attracted more than 2,000 domestic and foreign entrepreneurs.

mekong region business summit launched

Potential market

Vu Tien Loc, chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said that with support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the region has created a breakthrough. The most important milestone is the ongoing industrialization process, linked to the success of poverty reduction and the strong growth of the private sector.

The GMS is home to more than 340 million people, sharing many similarities in culture, language and customs. The market has high potential with its favorable geo-political location, rich natural resources, and abundant, cheap and young human resources.

Vietnam has participated in the GMS Economic Cooperation Program since it was established in 1992, bringing about positive results in economic development and poverty alleviation, as well as contributing to enhancing regional economic integration. As of December 2017, about US$6 billion had been poured into GMS cooperation projects in Vietnam, representing 30 percent of the total value of GMS loans and financial aid. Of that amount, transport accounted for 87 percent, followed by urban development (7.9 percent), agriculture and natural resources (3.7 percent), healthcare and social welfare (2.7 percent), industry and trade (0.4 percent), trade facilitation and transport (0.2 percent). According to Vu Tien Loc, despite numerous achievements, the GMS remains at the low end of development in comparison with the 10-nation ASEAN bloc, Asia and the world, in terms of per capita GDP, infrastructure, technology, finance, and human resource quality.

Opportunities and challenges

Addressing the GMS and Global Trade discussion, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh underlined the huge opportunities for the GMS to promote economic cooperation with China and India through economic corridors and free trade agreements between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China and India. It is also possible to connect the GMS Economic Cooperation Program with other regional cooperation structures such as ASEAN, Mekong-Japan Cooperation, Mekong-Ganga Cooperation and China’s Belt and Road Initiative, in addition to joining regional and global value chains, especially in fields of their strengths such as garment and textile, footwear, agriculture, seafood and tourism. Besides opportunities, the GMS is also facing challenges.

Vu Tien Loc said the biggest challenges of the GMS economies lie in the quality of institutions and business competitiveness compared with international standards and their participation in the global supply chain. He attached significance to the startup spirit, adding that the driving force of the GMS economies must be startup, micro-, small- and medium-sized, and women-led enterprises.

According to Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung, the development of platform technologies given the fourth industrial revolution requires trained, clear-headed human resources to put new technological achievements into practice. In addition, changes in the environment, climate and natural resources require the economies to make greater efforts to jointly overcome, and exploit the advantages to offset the remaining limitations.

Trade and investment facilitation

To overcome challenges and make good use of opportunities, Tran Quoc Khanh called on GMS economies to continue promoting open trade, upgrading border gates, simplifying customs procedures and enhancing ties between border management agencies.

Vu Tien Loc also proposed the establishment of a women-led business network and GMS startup network. He expressed his hope that together with initiatives, programs, and projects to promote regional connectivity, trade and investment facilitation, human resources training, environment protection and sustainable development, the business community network will multiply GMS efforts in international integration and development.

“We would also like to propose consideration of the implementation of the connectivity program through super-highway cables, the abolition of mobile phone roaming fees, and the establishment of an association to address cyber-security challenges among GMS countries,” Vu Tien Loc said.

Senior official meetings of the GMS-6 and the CLV-10 were held in Hanoi from March 29 to 31. Vietnam’s hosting the two events affirms the country’s increasing regional stature, as well as its role and contributions to regional cooperation mechanisms.

Nguyen Huong & Nhat Quang