Bt105m Swiss aid for Mekong communities

Economy March 20, 2013 00:00

By Vasinat Kruengchai,
Sumalee S

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The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has granted Bt105 million in aid, via the Mekong Institute (MI), to the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) countries to help them develop agricultural goods as major export items.


The three-year assistance project will help boost the economic potential of GMS nations, the agency said. The signing ceremony between the SDC and MI took place at Khon Kaen University yesterday, led by Narongchai Akarasenee, chairman of the MI Steering Committee; Suchat Katima, MI director; and Pradeep Itty, director of SDC’s Southeast Asia department.
This project would also benefit the development of underdeveloped communities along the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) from Danang Port in Vietnam through Laos and Thailand to Myanmar’s Malamaeng Port.
In the past 20 years, GMS nations’ economies have grown quite rapidly through various projects that have boosted domestic commerce and border trade. However, economic and social development is still clustered around major cities that used to serve as trading and production hubs. 
The prosperity has not trickled down to the poor residents of the communities along the EWEC. 
“The financial assistance will be allocated to support economic development in the area, especially to under-privileged and poor people living within the EWEC routes, who have yet to receive any assistance in their capability to develop agricultural products, including the improvement of product quality, sales and marketing, and career development. 
The pilot routes will be between Khammouan province in Laos and Nakhon Phanom in Thailand, as well as between Tak province’s Mae Sot district and Myanmar, which have experienced high trade activities, not only among farmers, but also small and medium-sized enterprises,” Narongchai said. 
Pradeep said that SDC expects the project to benefit communities and improve their quality of life.