SETTING standards for the crossing of borders is an urgent requirement for logistics in the Mekong sub-region, the former chief of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Supachai Panitchpakdi, said yesterday.
Speaking at an international conference on GMS Logistics Thailand, Supachai said six countries in the Mekong basin under the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) cooperation scheme have to amend and adjust their respective laws and regulations to meet the same standard.
Established in 1992, GMS comprises countries in the Mekong basin comprising China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The scheme aims to jointly develop infrastructure to facilitate economic development and connectivity in the sub-region.
A computerised border-crossing system within the GMS would be a solution to enhance harmonisation between the countries, Supachai said.
With a computerised cross-border system, the group would be able to identify the movement of trade around the country at a much faster pace as well as help eradicate corrupt practices in the border areas, he said.
Countries should also adopt the trade facilitation agreement of the WTO which was agreed on in February last year, he said.
This should help to bring the basic rules at the borders to a certain standard. As it is an international agreement, it will help determine the specific regulations that need to be standardised, he said.
The GMS is a key economic area in East Asia with a cross-border trade value totalling Bt300 billion in the first six months of the year, said Nichapa Yoswee, senior vice president for business, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau.
The GMS is expected to invest around $56 billion, about 85 per cent of its total development budget for 2013-22, in the development of logistics and infrastructure networks, including checkpoints, to better facilitate trade and transport movement along the GMS Economic Corridors, she said.