The ‘SME cluster promotion and investor forum’ was held on 19th March 2014 at the Sasin Japan Centre, Bangkok which was jointly organized by the Mekong Institute (MI) and Sasin Japan Center (SJC). The forum was attended by 36 participants comprising of SME clusters from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam and buyers and traders from the region. The one-day forum was aimed to provide an opportunity for business matching and business networking among the SME clusters and regional buyers.
Speaking at the inaugural session, Dr. Jean-Pierre A. Verbiest, Director at Interim of the Mekong Institute emphasized that the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015 would bring an integrated and wider market together with opportunities and challenges. It is important for SMEs in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) countries to develop and group themselves to be more competitive through market study and research for their integration into the AEC.
Addressing the forum, H. E. Tony Lynch, Ambassador of New Zealand to Thailand mentioned that the CLMV countries have showed a strong growth, while SMEs are the heart and core of CLMV economy and SME cluster has been proved as one of the effective tools or economic development.
Earlier, Mr. Madhurjya K Dutta, Program Manager, Trade and Investment Department, introduced the project objectives and explained the process of SME cluster formation in the CLMV countries. He mentioned that, during 2012 and 2013, with support under the New Zealand Aid Programme, the project promoted 16 SME clusters in the CLMV countries. This has been done through modular training approach by promoting a pool of national trainers to coach and guide selected SME product owners to establish clusters and form export consortia.
All the sixteen SME clusters from CLMV countries participated at the forum representing range of SME products such as i. Organic rice, instant noodle, rattan, mango and organic vegetable clusters from Cambodia; ii. Silk, wooden furniture, silk and handicraft from Laos; iii. Mango, plastic, and macadamia clusters from Myanmar and iv. Bat Trang ceramic, Quang Vinh ceramic, organic tea, Van Phuc silk, and Dong Ha silk clusters from Vietnam.
The forum also provided an opportunity for the SME cluster groups to present their cluster profiles, introduce their products and inform about their existing markets and their specific interest for business collaboration with the potential partners. The possibilities to establish CLMV cluster network was discussed to enable the SMEs to seek potential collaboration among the cluster groups in terms of technology exchange, product diversification apart from seeking potential business partners from the regional market.
A business matching session was organized for the buyers and SME clusters to explore business collaboration. The business matching event was monitored through structured follow-up process to assess the impact of the event to address the project goal of integrating the CLMV- SMEs into the regional market.