Four projects designed to accelerate cross-border trade and support the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the six countries of the Lancang-Mekong region, namely Cambodia, P.R. China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam were launched on April 18, 2018 in Bangkok, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the cooperation of projects under the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund. The MoUs were inked between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) of the Kingdom of Thailand, and between the MOC and Mekong Institute (MI) as implementing agency of said four projects.
Under the five-year collaboration between MI and MOC, the multi-year projects target the development of cross-border special economic zones, upgrading of border facilitation for trade and logistics development, organization of Lancang-Mekong business forum and the promotion of e-commerce for rural development.
At the signing ceremony, H.E. Mr. Lyu Jian, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in the Kingdom of Thailand, remarked on the relationship between Thailand and China under the LMC Framework: “The Chinese government attaches great importance to the significant role of Thailand in the cooperation. We are willing to keep and broaden close communication and cooperation with Lancang-Mekong countries including Thailand within the LMC Framework to create visible and tangible benefits to people in the region.” He further added, “Today’s signing marks another milestone in the cooperation between China and Thailand…We believe that Mekong Institute will implement well these projects in a professional manner as it always does. The Chinese side stands ready to work closely with the Ministry of Commerce and other parties in Thailand to make the LMC Special Fund projects blossom and bear fruit.”
Dr. Narongchai Akrasanee, Chairman of MI’s Steering Committee, likewise expressed, “The projects under the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Special Fund…will definitely support the development of the GMS. I am confident that MI will implement all these projects very well.”
The projects will engage both public and private sectors, from national ministries working in trade to national Chambers of Business and Commerce as well as SME associations and clusters. Building on MI’s experience in carrying out capacity development initiatives, the projects will be implemented using a range of activities including modular trainings, action research, business forums and business matching, policy consultations and online business platform development.
Introducing the four projects, MI Executive Director Dr. Watcharas Leelawath explained that the projects to be implemented by MI support the three development principles of the countries in the region: building connectivity among people, businesses and governments; building competitiveness of the business sector, and creating a sense of community founded on mutual trust that leads to mutual benefit and mutual prosperity. The projects, he further added, are aligned with three of the priority areas of the LMC, which are connectivity, production capacity and cross-border economic cooperation. “I believe that the LMC will be the driving mechanism for the mutual trust, mutual cooperation and mutual prosperity for the six countries in the Lancang-Mekong,” Dr. Watcharas said.
The four MI projects are supported by the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund through the initiative of the Government of the People’s Republic of China. The Special Fund is part of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework established in 2016 to promote multifaceted cooperation among the six countries along the Mekong River.