Trade and Investment Facilitation ,Southern Economic Corridor (SME)

The mid-term review of Mekong Institute’s (MI) two-year project, “Enhancing Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC) of ASEAN Mekong Sub-region (AMS),” identified established networks as a precious asset in the SEC. 

This and other significant findings were presented in a Dissemination-Workshop organized by MI on November 13, 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand. Attended by representatives from organizations including Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) as well as concerned ministries and Business Associations (BAs) in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, the workshop shared the findings of the Project’s mid-term review and a related research on the cross-border value chain bottlenecks in the SEC. The dissemination-workshop sought to provide members of the Project Steering Committee with a better understanding of the opportunities and constraints in the CMTV as well as lessons and experiences gained in the Project’s ongoing implementation. 

Results of the mid-term review revealed the clusters’ positive reception and their application of the knowledge and skills gained from training programs and related interventions initiated to improve business practices. Particularly, the importance of established networks among the stakeholders in the 18 provinces of the SEC and with MI has been identified as a vital contributing factor to the development of the economic corridor in the long run. The report also noted the high expectations on the SEC Biz Database, which has been identified as a major tool that will facilitate the integration of the SMEs into the regional and global value chains. 

Meanwhile, the research titled, “Cross-border Value Chain Bottlenecks in the SEC” aimed to uncover the situation and function of the SEC and subsequently, recommend business solutions that will boost the competitiveness of the SME sector. The research notes the potential of the SEC as an innovation hub, and recommends local-to-local cooperation between cluster members of the SEC, and setting up SEC GO!, a platform designed to improve prompt reporting and promote increased ownership between producers and customers, as some mechanisms to address bottlenecks in the SEC. 

The SEC Project, started in 2016 with support from the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), seeks to promote trade and investment in the SEC by building the competitiveness of targeted SME clusters in the corridor’s 19 provinces and build up their capacity to integrate into regional and global value chains. 

Both the research and the mid-term review were conducted in the first half of 2017. Results from both will be used to inform future project implementation including the design of the Project’s Phase Two.

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