International economic integration, the ASEAN Community formation, and trade and transportation cooperation within the Great Mekong Sub-region are offering Vietnam the opportunity to serve as a gateway between China and the ASEAN.

However, degrading infrastructure, including storehouses and roads, and insufficient equipment for inspection and control initiative pose barriers to the growth of cross-border trade by increasing transaction costs and reducing the quality of products due to long transaction durations.

In addition, the lack of services such as information, business consultations and market study services leads them to frequently face difficulties in response to market fluctuations.

At a recent International Development Partnership Forum on Cross-border Trade, 25 border provinces proposed improving 61 border gates, building four border economic zones, upgrading or building 122 markets, and expanding 93 roads and bridges.

However, completing these proposed upgrades requires substantial investment, leading Economist Vo Dai Luoc to suggest altering policies to attract the involvement of the private sector in upgrading infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Deputy Head of the Mountainous and Border Trade Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade Nguyen Van Hoi said the ministry is proposing the Government design an investment mechanism using the State budget while simultaneously calling for additional foreign investments in cross-border trade.

He also stressed the need to develop the East-West Economic Corridor to facilitate trade exchange activities through the border.

Industry and Trade Minister Vu Huy Hoang said the Central Steering Committee for Cross-border Trade will negotiate with bordering countries to sign agreements on cross-border trade and services.

Vietnam shares over 4,500 kilometres of its national borders with China, Laos and Cambodia, encompassing 25 provinces.

Along the border, there are 23 international border gates, 27 main border gates and 65 auxiliary gates, serving travellers and the exchange of goods between Vietnam and its neighbours.

Vietnam’s trade revenue across its land border gates exceeded 72 billion USD between 2008 and 2013 with an average increase of more than 10 percent a year. The revenue reached 19.6 billion USD in 2013 and approximately 10.3 billion USD in the first half of 2014.-VNA