Consumer sovereignty in the framework of social justice, economic equality and environmental balance, within and across borders

Big challenges remain for East-West corridor nations

August 16, 2014

DA NANG — Countries in the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) – Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Viet Nam – face many changes before the ASEAN Community makes its debut next December.

Director of the Mekong Institute, Watcharas Leelawath, yesterday spoke about the ASEAN community 2015 and its impact on regional co-operation on the corridor.

“The differences in procedures, regulations and laws are still the biggest obstructions to the establishment of the ASEAN Community,” Leelawath said.

“Slow changes in administrative reform and protection of domestic markets will also delay the acceleration of trade and investment among countries in the corridor,” he said.

Leelawath said each country should invest in infrastructure and software to create better conditions for cross-border trade and investment as well as to reduce poverty among corridor countries.

“The introduction of the Cross Border Economic Zone and Cross Border Transport Agreement will develop trading, saving exporters and importers time and money,” he said.

He also said the transport agreement had not been fully implemented among countries.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Do Thang Hai, said the corridor would help speed up the transport of commodities and investment from Viet Nam to other countries.

“The corridor will boost goods exchange between nations,” he said. “Exports from Viet Nam will be easily accessible to other markets in the region, thus improving the living standard of the whole community,” Hai said.

“The establishment of ASEAN Community calls for drastic efforts from member countries in implementing agreements already signed,” he said.

Hai said 20 per cent of the work needed to set up the ASEAN Community was still to be completed.

Head of the ASEAN department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nguyen Tien Minh, said the introduction of the ASEAN Community would boost bilateral trade between Viet Nam and ASEAN.

“Bilateral trade between Viet Nam and ASEAN has increased from US$8 billion to $40 billion.

However, many challenges, including competitive capacity, poor infrastructure, soft infrastructure (procedure and legal system)are a big concern for the Viet Nam Government in integrating into the ASEAN Community,” Minh said.

The ASEAN Community, with a population of 600 million and GDP of US$21 trillion, will be a key market for investment and trade as well as a connection to the world market.