Vietnam Academy Of Social Sciences

Conference: Hanoi symposium on Development of Mekong region in the Asian dynamic context


On February, 17th 2017, the Hanoi symposium on ‘Development of Mekong region in the Asian dynamic context’, co-organised by Waseda University (Japan), University of Economics and Business (Vietnam National University, Hanoi), Institute of World Economics and Politics (Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences) and Vietnam Asia Pacific Economic Centre, took place at Hall 3D, Building A, VASS’s headquater.

Prof., Dr. Tran Van Tho (Waseda University) was speaking at the symposium   Assoc. Prof., Dr. Nguyen Hong Son (University of Economics and Business) was delivering his speech at the symposium

Amongst participants, symposium organisers were Prof., Dr. Tran Van Tho, Waseda University; Assoc. Prof., Dr. Nguyen Hong Son, Rector of University of Economics and Business; Assoc. Prof., Dr. Chu Duc Dung, Director of Institute of World Economics and Politics; and Assoc. Prof., Vo Dai Luoc, General Director of Vietnam Asia Pacific Economic Centre. Participants from Japan included scientists from universities, such as Waseda University, Toho University, J.F.Oberlin University, Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo College of Music; organisations and cooperations like Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), the Economic Research Institute for Asia (JETRO), Mitsui Group. The symposium welcomed the attendance of organisations and institutes from ASEAN countries such as The Cambodian Research Centre for Development (Cambodia), Economic Research Institute for Industry and Trade (Laos), Centre for Economic Research and Consultancy (Myanmar). Vietnamese symposium attendees were mainly researchers from University of Economics and Business (VNU), Institute of World Economics and Politics (VASS), Vietnam Asia Pacific Economic. In addition, the symposium also attracted wide participation of many scientists as reviewers and examiners from University of Economics and Business, (VNU), Institute of World Economics and Politics (VASS), Foreign Trade University, Institute for Southeast Asian Studies (VASS), Central Institute for Economic Management, Central Economic Committee, and other Hanoi-based universities and institutes.

Assoc. Prof., Dr. Vo Dai Luoc (left), Prof., Dr. Tran Van Tho (right) co-chaired the symposium   Assoc. Prof., Dr. Vo Dai Luoc (left), Prof., Dr. Tran Van Tho, and Assoc. Prof., Dr. Chu Duc Dung (right) co-chaired the symposium

Giving his opening speech at the symposium, Prof. Dr. Tran Van Tho and Assoc. Dr. Nguyen Hong Son said: ‘The symposium is one of activities within a series of programs on research cooperation and academic exchanges between Waseda University, University of Economics and Business, and VASS. Until now, Waseda University and University of Economics and Business have often organised annual events on academic and cultural exchanges in order to reinforce the traditional relationship between two universities as well as to provide lecturers and students of both universities with opportunities of learning, understanding knowledge in different areas. Univesity of Economics and VASS also have had a long tradition of cooperation, especially in the research fields of world economy, international integration, and key issues of Vietnamese economy, including development in Mekong region and notably, Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation Program (GMS).

Over 25 years of formation and development, thanks to the good will of relevant countries and their friendly cooperation, GMS program has brought about a host of achievements and been regarded as the most effective mechanism of cooperation in a wide range of sub-regional cooperation mechanisms. Initiatives and activities within the framework of GMS program focus on 9 main areas as follows: Transport, Energy, Environment, Tourism, Posts and Telecommunications, Trade, Investment, Human Resource Development, and Agriculture and Rural Development. All of these have contributed to enhancing the connectivity and regional integration in Asia. 

Prof., Dr. Ryo IKEBE was giving his paper at the symposium   Prof., Dr. Masami ISHIDA was giving his presentation at the symposium

In the context of a gradual recovery and incremental improvements of the world economy after the global economic and financial crisis in 2008, Asian economies have witnessed a clear growth and been taking the lead in the global economic recovery as well as in efforts to maintain hard-gained achievements. However, the development gap between Mekong subregion countries (CLMV: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam) and ASEAN-6 has long been one the biggest problems facing ASEAN in general and GMS in particular. Between ASEAN-6 and CLMV there have been not only large differences in levels of GDP per capita, but also huge gaps in levels of education, health care, institutional framework and capacity, IT infrastructure and accessibility, and so on. It is the development gap that has had a considerable influence on the effectiveness of cooperation and the levels of connectivity within ASEAN as well as between ASEAN and outsiders. 

Dr. Nguyen Binh Giang was delivering his reviews for the symposium   Dr. Nguyen Tri Thanh was giving his reviews for the symposium

Acknowledging the above-mentioned issues, Vietnam has always considered narrowing the development gap as one of the top priorities, especially by means of support and active participation in both intra-GMS cooperation and external cooperation with other partners. This effort purports to enhance Vietnam’s position and prestige in ASEAN forum as well as in other international forums, aiming to seize opportunities and actively cope with accompanied challenges in the process of regional and international integration towards the goal of socio-economic development. To date, Vietnam’s overseas investments have had significant contributions to the development of GMS countries through generating capital, creating jobs, improving incomes and technology transfer. During the 2001-2015 period, trade between Vietnam and GMS countries gained a number of encouraging achievements through regional cooperation in the removal of tariff barriers, enabling the flow of ASEAN trade, and through shared efforts by GMS countries in establishing the economic corridors. Nevertheless, the volume of trade between Vietnam and GMS is still small in comparison with that between Vietnam and the world, or between Vietnam and ASEAN + 3. This gap is due to the fact that Vietnam and GMS countries are small economies and have had a heavy reliance on developed countries.

Overview of the symposium

The symposium was divided into three sessions. The first session focused on FDI, industrialisation and the development of Mekong subregion countries. The second session discussed hard and soft infrastructures in Mekong subregion. The third session concentrated on economic interaction between countries in Mekong subregion. The sessions 1 and 2 consisted of 4 papers for each, while the session 3 composed of 3 papers. Each presentation paper was followed by a peer-reviewed report with attached comments.  

Delegates took photos at the end of the symposium

The presentation papers focused on the following issues: 1, Analysis of Laos’s economy in general and Laos’s industry and FDI in particular, provision of useful information about the Strategy of development until 2025 and Vision 2030, adopted by the Lao PRD Government; 2, Details of changes in trade and investment structure of Vietnam and subregion Mekong countries; 3, Analysis of Myanmar’s economy over the last 30 years and recommendations for building a market economy where private sector takes the lead and should be further advanced; 4, Highlighting the role and position of industry and policy for developing transport infrastructure in subregion countries; 5, Recommendations for strategy of development in which economic policy is appropriate to the circumstances of subregion Mekong countries; Strategy for industrialisation based on agriculture development and policy of agricultural promotion for Mekong subregion; Strategy, policy for developing  transport infrastructure in the subregion; 6, Research into the development of GMS’s economic zone; changes in trade and investment structure within GMS, the role of big partners such as Japan, South Korea and China, in Mekong subregion with the purpose of offering recommendations to assist Vietnam’s policy makers to design proper solutions and strategies towards successful integration in GMS as well as in ASEAN + 3, and hence, benefiting Vietnam’s economy.

The symposium was a rare opportunity for Vietnamese and international delegates, scientists and experts to present and exchange ideas, scientific opinions on the development of Mekong region in the context of intra - and - extra ASEAN integration, offering recommendations for Vietnam’s successful involvement in GMS.

Nguyen Thu Ha


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