Written by Mekong Institute  

The Project “Enhancing Provincial and Local Chambers of Commerce Capacities in Trade and Investment Facilitation along East-West Economic Corridor” was implemented by Mekong Institute from January 2011 to December 2012, in collaboration with ADB Thailand Residential Mission and Private Sector Development Unit of Trade and Investment Promotion Division of UNESCAP. The project was funded by the Japan Government through Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), ASEAN Secretariat. The aim of this private sector development is to promote inter and intra trade and investment in and between 11 provinces along East-West Economic Corridor encompassing Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.

EWEC was chosen for this development intervention because it is the least developed corridor in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).It covered 11 commercial nodes along EWEC. They are Myewaddy, Maesot, Phitsanulok, KhonKaen, Kalasin, Mukdahan, Savannakhet, Dansawanh, Dong Ha (including Lao Bao Special Economic Zone) , Hue and Da Nang (including three border nodes: Mae Sot – Myewaddy, Mukdahan – Savannakhet, and Dan Sawanh – Lao Bao)

Major activities carried out in the last two years include: a) Executive Seminars/Policy Dialogues, Structured Learning Visits and networking events for Decision Makers and Exporters; b) a series of capacity building programs (modular training approach) on priority areas related to trade and investment in the sub-region for Core Group of key staff of Chambers of Commerce and Industries (CCIs) and SME associations; and c) Business information system, database and exchange.

Major outcomes of this project are:

  1. EWEC Business Network. The project is very successful in promoting business network among SMEs and members of CCI along EWEC. This is evidenced by the establishment of EWEC Business Network; regular exchange visits and joint business events among the CCIs; an annual EWEC Trade Fair which commenced in 2012 hosted by Danang CCI and, for 2013, to be hosted by KhonKaen CCI.

  2. EWEC Biz Database. This Biz Database is the outcome of a modular training program on Conducting Business Research and Market Intelligence. It was developed jointly with 11 Provincial Chambers of Commerce and Industries and contains provincial profiles and investment potentials of every province on EWEC and over 1200 company profiles. The database is being updated by the respective CCIs.

  3. Improved Websites of GMS Business Forum and CCIs. The project team provided training to and worked with the GMS Business Forum and selected Chambers of Commerce in improving their respective websites and install summary page in English.

  4. EWEC Product Displays and Information Center. Three EWEC Product Displays and Information Centers (PDIC) have been set up, one at KhonKaen CCI, one at KhonKaen Airport arrival hall and one at Savannakhet CCI. The PDIC provide opportunity for SMEs of EWEC to display their products and provide information about their services.

  5. EWEC Private Sector Development Repository System. The project team compiled all documents generated by three private sector development projects, i.e. a) ADB Thailand Resident Mission project on “Strengthening Local Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIs) along the East West Economic Corridor to Promote Trade, Investment and Value Chains”, b) UNESCAP Research and Policy Recommendations on “Business for Development: Capacity building of SMEs in the Greater Mekong Subregion for their effective penetration into regional and global markets” and this project. The archives are placed at MI GMS Resource Center and are available for public in hard copies and electronic files. It comprises research papers, manuals, training packages, reports and projects information. MI Trade and Investment Glossary (MITIF) developed under this project are also made available at this corner.

To continue to provide technical support and backstopping to CCIs and Provincial authorities on EWEC after the project end, MI has contracted one consultant – Trade and Investment Expert to assist EWEC Biz Network to: a) conduct cross-border value chain analysis and mapping of three commodities: Glutinous rice of Nakhon Phnom; Khammoune, Arabica coffee of Lao Bao – Dansavanh; and maize of Myewaddy – Maesot; b) organize, in collaboration with Khon Kaen Governor Office and Khon Kaen CCI “EWEC Silk Executive Seminar and Investor Forum”; and c) provide technical support and backstopping to CCIs on trade and investment opportunities.

The final evaluation results showed that the project is highly relevant, effective, efficient but too small and two short duration to create clear impact. Lessons learned from and good practices of this project are being replicated and expand to Southern Economic Corridor and North-South Economic Corridor of the Mekong Subregion. This initiative also caught the attention of development partners and as a result, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has agreed to provide multi-year funding for a regional development project on EWEC.

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