More than 50 representatives from the Greater Mekong Sub-region governments, international organizations and universities gathered at the Museum Siam on 14 December 2010 for Mekong Institute’s Development Partner Consultative Meeting. MI organized its first-ever consultative meeting to solicit support from development partners on its capacity building programs for regional integration and cooperation in the next 3 years (2011-2013). 

The GMS, which comprises of Cambodia, China (Yunnan and Guangxi), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, is at a critical juncture of development; the Mekong region is committed to deepen integration into the wider ASEAN community, but the capacity gaps are widening between and among member countries. MI was established in 1996 to address these needs by organizing cutting edge training programs, structured learning visits and conducting research on emerging issues. In the next 3 years, MI will strive to develop and deliver capacity building programs in three areas: Trade and Investment Facilitation, Rural Development for Sustainable Livelihoods and Human Migration Management and Care, with the ultimate aim to promoting regional cooperation and integration of the GMS and the ASEAN Economic Community as a whole. 

In her welcome remarks, Madam Zhou Hong, Director-General of the Foreign Affairs Office of the People’s Government of Yunnan Province and representative of the MI Council Chairman, told the audience that MI belongs to the GMS and needs both the continued support of existing donors and injection of dynamics by new donors. She was grateful to the funding and technical support of member countries and development partners in the past, and urged them to extend their support in the future. 

During the meeting, Dr. Narongchai Akrasanee, Chairman of MI Steering Committee, deliberated MI Business Plan 2011-2013. He highlighted MI flagship programs on enhancing capacity of provincial chambers of commerce and business associations to promote trade along various Economic Corridors. Other new programs include agricultural innovation such as value-chain intervention and post-harvest practices, and management of skilled and undocumented migrants in the GMS. Participating agencies and organizations, including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UNESCAP, International Organization for Migration, Office of SME Promotion of Thailand, etc. discussed the Business Plan fervently and expressed strong interests to support MIs activities. 

Looking beyond cooperation with traditional donors, MI started to engage with the private sector to organize capacity building programs. MI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 13 December with Betagro Public Company, and will collaborate with its Corporate Social Responsibility Division to bring about 50 young rural agriculture college students in the GMS countries to participate in a 3-week youth camp. MI expects to expand their horizon on transborder swine production chain and create a network of young agriculturalists in the GMS.

MI Council Meeting, 14 December 2010, Siam City Hotel, Bangkok

MI Development Partners Consultative Meeting, 14 December 2010, Museum Siam

Signing Ceremony of MoU between MI and Betagro Public Company, 13 December 2010

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