At the event (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – A symposium on the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) and Global Trade was held in Hanoi on March 30 within the framework of the first-ever GMS Business Summit initiated by Vietnam to boost open trade and build a multilateral trade system in the region. 

Participating businesses had a good chance to talk with government agencies of GMS countries about benefits, opportunities and challenges from globalisation and cross-border trade, which are important to the GMS development. 

They were also updated about the cooperation achievements that GMS countries have gained over the past 25 years. 

The session offered an opportunity for delegates to recognise and evaluate changes and developments in international trade order and reposition of GMS countries in regional and global trade panoramic. 

The panels also discussed solutions to catching up with new developments in the global economy and continuously capitalize on tremendous opportunities that are set for the GMS economies. 

Vice Chairman of the Central and Eastern European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam Csaba Bundik described the symposium as a high level with big decision makers from different countries. 

Businesses were brought together to see their problems in different ways as well as update the GMS business trends, he said. 

Meanwhile, Chris Malone, Partner and Managing Director of the Bolston Consulting Group, said the thematic session creates a lot of connection opportunities for businesses. For example, a lot of agriculture companies based in Vietnam are looking for business opportunities in the Southeast Asian country. 

Furthermore, businesspeople look to understand more about the business trends that affect their business and get some ideas to benefit them in the GMS region, he added. 

The really big opportunity in Vietnam would be the expanding consumer market, he said, adding that there is also interesting GMS connection in the tourism industry. The countries seek to work together to offer integrated tour packages, he took this as an instance. 

Speaking at the session, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh highlighted notable achievements of the GMS over the past time, including the development of economic corridors by outlining nine priority railways to increase railway connection. 

GMS countries have ratified the Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Transport of Goods and People, signed the “Early Harvest” Memorandum of Understanding, implemented the one-stop-shop model, and cooperated in the field of e-commerce, he said. 

He underlined huge opportunities for the GMS to forge economic and trade links and cooperation with China and India through economic corridors and free trade agreements signed between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China and India. 

It is also possible to connect the GMS Economic Cooperation Programme with other regional cooperation structures such as ASEAN, Mekong-Japan Cooperation, Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, and Belt and Road Initiative in addition to joining regional and global value chains, especially in the fields of their strengths such as garment-textile, footwear, agriculture, seafood and tourism. 

The official also pointed to challenges posed to GMS countries such as limited number of cooperation projects in cross-border trade promotion and facilitation in the region and differences in border gate and e-commerce management regulations and policies, causing difficulties to harmonise regulations to make it easier for trade. 

He called on GMS nations to continue promoting open trade and build a multilateral trade system. 

According to the Deputy Minister, to facilitate trade and investment, it is necessary to upgrade border gates, simplify administrative procedures, harmonise customs procedures and control effectively border gates as well as expand the one-stop-shop models along economic corridors and signing agreements on mutual recognition of standards on food hygiene and safety, animal and plant quarantine, and enhance cooperation between border management agencies. 

The GMS should develop transport infrastructure and logistics along economic corridors, and database to facilitate trade, he suggested. 

The region needs to increase opportunities to support businesses, especially small-and medium-sized ones, to take part in regional value chains, he recommended. 

At the session, delegates exchanged the situation of cooperation in trade and investment among GMS countries. 

They also talked about new development trends in the global economy that have impact on GMS countries and require adjustments of policies and enhancement of GMS cooperation such as building the ASEAN Economic Community, developing e-commerce, shifting to digital economy, and leveraging on opportunities from new-general free trade agreements and the fourth industrial revolution.-VNA