The Joint Mekong Forum and GMS Logistics Forum 2019 gathered a 300-strong crowd of regional logistics stakeholders from the public and private sectors yesterday, July 24, 2019 in Khon Kaen, Thailand as it set out to bring forward discussions on the role and prospects of the logistics sector in fostering better connectivity in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). The event was organized by Mekong Institute (MI) and the Federation of Thai Industries-Khon Kaen Chapter, and co-hosted by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB).  

Connectivity has been the subject of many discussions for years yet it still remains relevant in these times, remarked MI Executive Director Dr. Watcharas Leelawath as he welcomed participants to the Forum. “It is also a timely issue with connectivity one of the focus areas of Thailand as Chair of the ASEAN this year,” he added.

Dr. Narongchai Akrasanee, former Minister of Energy and Chair of MI Steering Committee, noted the importance of synchronizing rules and regulations to facilitate better cross-border transactions, while maximizing the benefits and advantages of technology. Mr. Zhang Guohua, Vice Governor of The People’s Government of Yunnan Province, P.R. China, similarly underscored coordinated planning and policy among logistics actors in the six countries of the sub-region. On the other hand, Dr. Naoyuki Yoshino, Dean and CEO of the Asian Development Bank Institute, highlighted the importance of spillover effects of investments in infrastructure and encouraging private sector financing in infrastructure especially in transport and logistics.

The joint forum also presented insights from various logistics experts, logistics companies and service providers and public sector authorities on the issues concerning the region’s logistics network’s competitiveness and capacity to drive economic growth. Accelerating the logistics industry as a driver of regional connectivity, according to the Forum’s panel discussants, requires infrastructure to be accessible, border control procedures streamlined, and logistics capacities continuously strengthened through training and digitization.

The joint forum on logistics combined the reach and expertise of MI’s annual Mekong Forum and TCEB’s GMS Logistics Forum to offer a broader platform for engaging logistics actors in critical discussions on the subject of logistics and connectivity.

The event also featured the GMS Logistics Forum Business Matching on July 25 that hosted more than 40 logistics companies, small and medium enterprises and third-party logistics services and outsourcing businesses from Cambodia, P.R. China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Complementing Forum discussions, the Business Matching offered a concrete platform for enterprises engaged in different types of logistics services such as transportation, warehouse distribution, and forwarder, among others, to meet with each other and discus possible areas of collaboration for business expansion.

The Joint Mekong Forum and GMS Logistics Forum 2019 was organized in collaboration with other partners, Thai Smile; The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (Thailand); Tourism Authority of Thailand; GMS Freight Transport Association; Regional and Local Economic Development-East West Economic Corridor Project; Asian Development Bank Institute; Trade Facilitation Office-Canada; and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Centre.  

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