File photo : Mekong River//EPA
File photo : Mekong River//EPA

Mekong Institute shifts its aid focus

Economy July 15, 2017 01:00


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THE Mekong Institute is revisiting its performance targets following geo-economic changes in the Greater Mekong Subregion amid Asean’s economic integration.

“MI has to promote and develop training and assist in knowledge for its member countries, while solving social problems,” Narongchai Akrasanee, chairman of a committee supervising MI, said yesterday.

The new focus on social assistance with knowledge training in GMS countries was a shift from economic aid, he said at the Mekong Forum on “New Geo-economics: Reshaping the Future of the GMS?” in Khon Kaen. 

Workers have been driven back to their own countries, which leads to unemployment problems in Thailand’s neighbouring countries while Thailand faces a labour shortage, he said. MI’s next move not only aims at GMS countries, but also Asean countries, he said, pointing to a key strategic point – the Korean Peninsula. If anything happens, Asean’s landscape will be changed.

Watcharas Leelawath, executive director of MI, said social problems now come as the forefront work in GMS countries and discussion will be needed with them to jointly attack social problems. 

Societies find difficulties to continue development and more collaboration will be required to fight them in manufacturing, services and Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), he said.

Puripan Bunnag, director of domestic mice at the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, said if the bureau joins MI to hold meetings, seminars and training, the Mice market will be effectively broadened, given the broad and potential customer bases in these countries. 

“MI holds the Mekong Forum every year and this is the market that can make connection with GMS and Asean countries,” he said. “If we see that Thailand cannot grow alone, its growth will be driven together with Asean countries, while promoting the exchange of products, exhibitions and booths for business decision-making and joint economic development.”

Narongchai said global development is centred not only in Western countries, but also Asean’s neighbours, particularly when economic power has been shifted to China.

“We see China growing into the world’s economic power, overtaking the United States, whose policy changes after its new president. 

“Our development plan in trade and investment must be set to accord with China, the economic power that is in closest proximity to GMS countries,” he said.

Given the Sino-Thailand, Sino-Laos and Sino-Myanmar railway projects, China plays a role in infrastructure development in GMS and CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) countries, he said.

Thailand should produce for trade and make a big improvement in infrastructure, he said.

MI will be the intermediary, coordinating with all countries to produce people to drive development for the six GMS countries with international legal issues in particular, Watcharas said.