October 30, 2005, New Delhi, Press Release
UTS International, a leading Indian NGO engaged in research and advocacy on trade and development issues, organized the final consultation of the project entitled “South-South Economic Cooperation: Exploring Mekong-Ganga Relationship” at Bangkok on 26-27 October. The project is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Switzerland.
It aims to explore the way forward for better economic cooperation (trade and investment) between India and countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), viz. Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam.
CUTS international is implementing this network-based research project in India and GMS countries to understand the present environment of economic cooperation between these countries and what the business thinks about the future scope of enhancing trade and investment. The objective is to explore issues hindering more trade and investment between these countries and areas where mutual cooperation can be enhanced.
Issues concerning trade and investment between India and GMS countries are evolving at a rapid pace. Given India’s Look East Policy, the GMS region is becoming an emerging area for future economic cooperation. On the other hand, there is little literature on such issues and, more importantly, business perceptions on the scope of such cooperation.
Earlier national consultations were held in India, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to discuss the findings of the perception surveys conducted within the framework of this project in these countries among various stakeholders.
Some of the key findings indicate:
• Insufficient awareness of information;
• A mindset problem for not engaging in business; Lack of entrepreneurship development;
• Absence of institutional framework, which does not attract business initiatives;
• Lack of appropriate infrastructure and direct linkages restricts business growth; and
• Need to enhance the role of chambers of commerce for greater business interactions.
The meeting at Bangkok involved business bodies, policy makers, research institutions, civil society organisations and representatives of international and inter-governmental organisations to discuss the findings and deliberate on issues for better economic cooperation between India and GMS countries. Issues such as trade and transport facilitation, enterprise development were discussed at length.