09/09/2019 (Savannakhet, Lao PDR) – “Mekong Institute continuously steers efforts to reduce trade costs for quicker and more efficient flow of cross-border transactions along the EWEC. With today’s turnout, we remain positive of the commitment and cooperation among the three border provinces in achieving this shared endeavor,” said MI Executive Director Dr. Watcharas Leelawath as he addressed delegates at the second Business to Government (B2G) Meeting on Cross-Border Trade Facilitation between Mukdahan, Thailand, Quang Tri, Vietnam, and Savannakhet, Lao PDR.  

Following the first B2G in August 2018, the second installment of institutionalized dialogue gathers 123 representatives from public and private sectors in the border provinces to review the ongoing implementation of action plans and strategize further actions to fulfill commitments made during the first round. Ten proposals were submitted last year, of which five were approved and actions plans were developed and implemented by relevant provincial governments. Some of the actions implemented include the enhancement of border transparency by installing information on fees and charges and border procedures at the crossing points, issuing receipt for each payment made at the border, exemption from weighing and weight control for vehicles transporting agro-products along road no. 9 in the domestic area of Savannakhet, and the change from inter-agencies check-point to a coordination point at Baan Dong.

Ten new proposals consolidated from business operators from Mukdahan, Quang Tri, and Savannakhet during the previous Business to Business (B2B) dialogue held last June were proposed to the three provincial governments during this meeting. The issues covered regulatory-based concerns, operational services and costs associated to import-export border procedures.

“Today’s dialogue is considered a flagship collaboration of the three provincial governments toward effective and efficient cross-border trade operations between the public and private sectors,” said Mr. Thonekeo Phouthakayalath, Vice Governor of Savannakhet Province. He also spoke about the significance of tackling the challenges related to trade of agricultural products since it accounts for one of the highest volume of import-export products via the two twin border crossing points of Savannakhet-Mukdahan and Dansavanh-Lao Bao.

Mukdahan Vice Governor Mr. Supakorn Moolsuwan remarked, “This B2G opens the floor for respective parties to raise their insights and concerns on advancing economic development and transnational relations. It further lays the foundation for integrated and seamless border trade that will offer boundless connections and remarkable growth opportunities for our three provinces.”  

Mr. Nguyen Quan Chinh, Vice Chairperson of Quang Tri Province People’s Committee, called on the steadfast support of MI and its development partners. “Witnessing its notable achievements, we highly recommend continued project implementation as well as to further initiate complementary efforts directed at the economic development – not only of Quang Tri and its neighboring border provinces – but encompassing all provinces along the EWEC,” he stated.

Supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the second B2G meeting is initiated by MI’s Regional and Local Economic Development – East West Economic Corridor (RLED-EWEC) Project and co-hosted by Savannakhet Provincial Department of Planning and Investment.

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