Mekong Institute (MI) successfully conducted the provincial consultation workshop on Enabling Regulatory Environment for Facilitating Cross-Border Trade (CBT) along the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) in Myawaddy township, Kayin State, Myanmar on December 26, 2016. The workshop was the third event in a series of consultations under the framework of the 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 consultation workshop was attended by 26 participants representing the Governor’s office of Mae Sot province and Kayin State Government Officer, Departments of Commerce, Department of Border Trade, Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Agriculture and Forestry and Quarantine offices, Departments of Land Transport, Departments of Foreign Affairs, Customs Departments, Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and Business Associations, and Cross-border SMEs / Exporters and Importers of Myawaddy, Kayin State, Myanmar and Mae Sot, Tak province, Thailand. 

Mr. Madhuriya Kumar Dutta, Director of MI’s Trade and Investment Facilitation (TIF) and Mr. Nguyen Hung Cuong, Director of MI’s EWEC Departments provided an overview of MI and the EWEC project and the objectives and expected outputs and outcomes of the consultation workshop. The consultation offered the participants from both sides an interactive platform to discuss and validate the result of the research on “Potentials for Facilitation of Cross-Border Trade of Key Agricultural Commodities in Borders of Kayin State, Myanmar and Tak Province, Thailand”, and reflect their views and perspectives on broader issues related to (i) cross-border trade facilitation, (ii) technical cooperation, and (iii) institutional development and coordination mechanism that aimed to identify policy priorities and solutions to creating an enabling regulatory environment for facilitating cross-border trade between Kayin State and Tak province. The results of the consultation will also contribute to the project design and intervention in the next three years. 

Supporting the objectives of the provincial consultation, U Saw Myint Oo, the State Minister of Kayin State and Mr. Panu Kankaew, Director, Office of Commercial Affairs, Tak province addressed the importance of cross-border trade between Myawaddy and Mae Sot in contribution to the development of the local economies. It was expected that the discussion on the cross-border trade rules and regulations could reciprocally be applied to both provinces so that the people living along the Kayin State- Tak Province would benefit from the equitable and inclusive growth through the border trade of goods, including agricultural commodities. 

During the consultation, the participants discussed the issues on (i) Policy solutions and measures to formalize informal cross-border trade; (ii) Rules and regulations on import and export, including harmonization of regulations on CBT of agricultural commodities; (iii) Single authority in charge of coordinating customs and related agencies / border control task force; (iv) Development of contract farming for agricultural commodities; (v) Development of trade database and information sharing mechanism; (vi) Implementation of regulations on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS), permit issuance, product certification, and inspection procedures for agricultural commodities; (vii) Implementation of the function of Thailand – Myanmar Joint Trade Commission with regards to cross-border trade facilitation through simplification of customs clearance procedures, application of rules of origin (RO), trade and investment; (viii) A dialogue mechanism between the provincial authorities and agencies in exchanging information on related policies issues on cross-border trade, transport and trade facilitation, coordination, cooperation, information exchange mechanism, etc.; and (ix)Joint Expert Group to work on technical matters of trade, investment, logistics, SPS, standards, etc. 

Providing the way forward upon completion of the consultation workshop, the Team Leader of EWEC project team in Kayin State confirmed that cross-border trade facilitation is the focus of the EWEC project in the next phase, and reflected the importance of the provincial consultation whose result will be brought to the national and regional consultations for seeking policy development and support, scheduled in January – February 2017, which were agreed by the two leaders and the stakeholders of Kayin State and Tak province.

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