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Regional strategy on agenda

BUSINESS leaders are hopeful that their recommendations for greater regional economic cooperation will be adopted at a summit of heads of state, set to take place in Phnom Penh today.

The joint business council of the five-nation Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) met yesterday to discuss economic cooperation among its member states of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand.

About 350 delegates and businesspeople attended the forum, held at the Cambodiana Hotel, ahead of the ACMECS summit.

Delegates raised concerns and discussed proposals on economic issues including strengthening investment and cooperation, cross-border trade, tourism, agriculture, transport links, industry, human resources development and bilateral relations.

Joint business council chairman Kith Meng, president of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, said the council would make its recommendations to regional leaders,  including Prime Minister Hun Sen, today.
“I am sure that ACMECS leaders have been briefed on our discussion of economic cooperation on the borders, agriculture, human resource, transport and tourism,” he said.

Among the proposals was a single visa for each of the five member countries, which Kith Meng said would improve bilateral relations.

There is a need to review the present situation and to explore and formulate good practices for beneficial contract farming.

Thai chief delegate Tanit Sorat, vice-chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, urged the joint business council to focus on transportation links and improved logistics.

He said member states should accelerate the ratification of the Greater Mekong Sub-region cross-border trade agreement, and establish an alliance to create a sub-regional network of logistics.

“I hope the said recommendations would help promote the goal of ASEAN connectivity,” he said.

Tanit Sorat also said each member state would benefit from  establishing  business centres that would disseminate and publicise trade and investment information, as well as provide business-matching services to interested parties.

Member states should also speed up the implementation of existing and future plans to improve resource mobilisation.

Myanmar delegate Win Aung, head of the Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the development of small and medium-sized enterprises should be taken into account.

“SME development is playing a very important role for high growth of the economic of the country so we should think about this,” he said.

Laos delegate Chinda Vongsouly, president of the Champasak Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also urged a greater focus on contract farming and tourism marketing.

“There is a need to review the present situation and to explore and formulate good practices for beneficial contract farming projects.”

Kith Meng said he hoped the ACMECS leaders would consider approving the proposals to better the economies of the five member states.

The ACMECS sub-region ranks fifth in the world in terms of population, which currently stands at about 230 million people, and has a combined GDP of more than  US$400 billion.

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