Mekong Monitor

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Photo Credit: National Public Radio





Thai government mulls cross-border trade zone in the Golden Triangle
(24 September 2018) The Thai government is conducting a feasibility study to set up a cross-border economic zone in the Golden Triangle area under the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation scheme, which would enhance economic links for Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and China. The Director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department Auramon Supthaweethum said his department would be looking at a location in Chiang Rai, Thailand, for the zone and this matter would be discussed with the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Thai Industries in October 2018. The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation framework was introduced in 2015 in order to advance multifaceted cooperation at the sub-regional level among Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Under the cooperation scheme, these countries seek to boost trade to US$250 billion by 2020. In 2017, the trade value in the region was at US$220 billion, and growth was at 16% year-on-year.
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Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) to stop granting investment certificates for foreign firms that use old technology
(25 September 2018) The Vietnamese government would not issue investment certificates for projects using old technologies which could affect the environment. The Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said Vietnam is currently prioritising high-quality foreign direct investment (FDI), which emphasises environmentally friendly projects using new technologies that are in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) tasked the relevant government agencies to be stringent when issuing investment certificates. The agencies would also inspect, examine and supervise foreign investments involving vast lands and utilising the minimum investment rates. According to the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) under MPI, FDI commitments in Vietnam in 2017 was at US$35.9 billion which was equivalent to an increase of 44.4%. FDI commitments was US$24.35 billion in the first eight months of 2018, up 4.2% year-on-year. Up to 20 August 2018, disbursement of FDI projects increased to US$11.25 billion, a jump of 9.2% year-on-year.
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Cambodia-Thailand trade hits US$4 billion in the first seven months of 2018
(22 September 2018) According to a report provided by the Thailand embassy in Cambodia, the trade volume between both countries was US$4.6 billion in the first seven months of 2018. It is an increase of 34.4% compared to the first seven months of 2017. Cambodia’s imports of goods and services from Thailand was worth US$4.1 billion during the first seven months of 2018, an increase of 40.6% compared to 2017, but Cambodia’s exports to Thailand decreased 1.2% from US$506 million in 2017 to US$ 500 million in 2018.
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World Bank reports that safer roads could boost Thailand’s GDP by 22%
(24 September 2018) A World Bank report said Thailand should ensure that its roads are safe in order to achieve long-term economic growth. The report entitled “The High Toll of Traffic Injuries: Unacceptable and Preventable” indicated that if road traffic injuries in Thailand could be brought down by 50% and adequate road safety were to be maintained for 24 years, the country’s GDP would increase by 22%. According to the Thai Road Safety Centre, 15,256 people died in road accidents in 2017. Nearly 79% of the deceased were males and most were from 16 to 25 years old. A researcher of the World Bank report said that if the road-accident casualty rate could be reduced from now to 2038, 138,168 deaths could be prevented. This would result in an increase of income equivalent to 22.2% of Thailand’s 2014 GDP.
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International firms invited to tender bids for BRI projects
(21 September 2018) Myanmar’s Union Minister of Commerce U Than Myint has called upon foreign enterprises to tender bids for the Belt and Road-related projects in Myanmar and assured investors that the process would be conducted transparently and fairly. He said China would be providing loans for the projects, but international investors and development agencies will be invited to take part in the implementation process. Recently, Myanmar and China inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), which is a key part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) routes. Myanmar’s Ministry of Planning and Finance said that it signed an “umbrella agreement” with China while agreements on individual projects will have to be negotiated by the respective ministries in future. The CMEC covers a highway development from China’s Yunnan Province to Kyaukphyu via Mandalay and the Mandalay-Yangon-Mawlamyine route, as well as collaborations in 15 sectors including infrastructure development, investment, energy, agriculture and tourism.
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About Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)

The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Programme was launched by the Asian Development Bank in 1992 connecting five developing ASEAN countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, and Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region. The region has some of the most robust economies sharing the Mekong River Basin thanks to its reform and liberalisation. The subregion is growing at a faster pace than the whole of East Asia and the Asia Pacific as the GDP growth rate for 2017 was at 6.4 percent, according to the World Bank. The population at the subregion as of 2016 is at 340 million while the GDP at PPP is at US$3.1 trillion in 2016. In 2015, trading within the region was at US$444 billion.

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