Over 2,000 senior officials and entrepreneurs from the six countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) and GMS development partners gathered here Friday to discuss business outlook, new economic drivers and a private sector development action plan.
The six-member GMS, which have comparative advantages in agriculture and tourism, can become "the kitchen of the world" and a new manufacturing hub of the world due to its inexpensive labor and young population, Vu Tien Loc, president of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said at the GMS Business Summit, held for the first time as an initiative by host Vietnam.
"The GMS economic drivers in the coming years will be entrepreneurship, micro, small and medium enterprises, and women-led enterprises," he said.
However, the biggest challenge of the GMS economies is institutional quality and business competitiveness to meet international standards and to connect to global supply and demand chains, according to officials attending the meeting.
At the summit, Cambodia introduced its initiative on establishing the GMS Young Entrepreneurs' Network, and Vietnam proposed the formation of the GMS Women Entrepreneurs' Network, and the GMS Start-up Network.
Vietnam also proposed further consideration to implement the connectivity program through super highway cables, abolishment of mobile phone roaming fees, and establishment of an association to address cyber-security among the GMS countries.
Meanwhile, Oudet Souvannavong, president of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the GMS is entering its third decade of collaboration with a stronger commitment to its shared objectives in connectivity, community and competitiveness.
"The GMS has recently adopted a new action plan, the Hanoi Action Plan 2018 (HAP), that calls for an expansion of economic corridors to boost connectivity between the countries. The GMS governments also endorsed the GMS Regional Investment Framework to support the HAP through a pipeline of 227 investment and technical assistance projects valued at 66 billion U.S. dollars," said the Lao delegate.
During the summit, the officials and entrepreneurs centered their discussions on business outlook, new economic drivers, and the GMS Private Sector Development Strategic Plan for 2018-2020, infrastructure development and financing, agriculture business and technology, and GMS and global trade.
According to the delegates, infrastructure development is critical for economic growth and progress in social development, agriculture continues to be a key driver of economic growth and the engine for sustainable development of GMS countries, and the countries should continue to take full advantage of globalization and the cross-border flow of goods and services, as well as the huge Chinese market.
The Greater Mekong Sub-region covers the Mekong River basin in Southeastern Asia, bringing together the six countries of Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
From Friday to Saturday, leaders of the six countries are attending in Hanoi the 6th GMS summit themed "Leveraging 25 years of Cooperation, Building an Integrated, Sustainable and Prosperous GMS". They are also expected to discuss new strategies to boost regional transport, agriculture, tourism and environment.