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Trade bottlenecks hinder development in Mekong region
http://english.dbw.cn銆€銆€ 2009-06-08 15:21:13
 
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    When the 1,800-km Kunming-Bangkok Road to link China with countries of the Mekong River region opened last year, Li Meiying thought international trade would boom.

    Li, director of the Yunnan Vegetable Circulation Industry Association, believed the road would serve as a corridor to enable the barter of Chinese vegetables for oil from Thailand.

    "It was expected to take only two or three days to transport the vegetables to Thailand, but actually it took a month for the first batch to reach Bangkok," said Li.

    The bottlenecks lay in the complex administrative procedures.

    "Administrative formalities take too long. The formalities for imports and exports are too complex," she said. "We have to contact the departments of traffic, police, customs and frontier security as well as departments in Thailand and Laos."

    And for goods coming back to China "the vehicles carrying oil from Thailand cannot enter China because border policies are different between the two countries."

    The problems faced by Li are common among export and import firms in the region, and officials and experts at a forum on the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) in southwestern Chinese city of Kunming say the countries must cooperate more closely.

    The trade procedures have been expensive. GMS traders and carriers have complained about the high costs and delays in processing exports and imports, said Jean-Pierre Verbiest, Thailand Resident Mission director of Asian Development Bank (ADB),at the second GMS Economic Corridors Forum.

    Development levels differed across the GMS countries, and regulations and work processes lacked uniformity, said Yu Jianhua, director of International Trade and Economics Affairs at China's Commerce Ministry.

    "There is also insufficient involvement in the Cross Border Transport Agreement (CBTA) by some GMS countries."

    China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia signed the GMS CBTA in 2007 to reduce regional transport costs and encourage trade, but only China had ratified it, Yu said. "The implementation of the agreement scheduled for 2010 may have to be delayed."

    Paiboon Ponsuwanna, chairman of Thai National Shippers Council, suggested training at all levels of the logistics work force. "There are a large number of logistics staff, but most of them are unskilled. I believe the capacity building can help remove the bottlenecks."

    IT technologies were also needed in customs procedures to facilitate efficient overland transit between GMS countries, he said.

    "Besides infrastructure construction, departments of transportation, customs and import and export of each GMS country really need more dialog to build good software for the economic corridors," said Gu Chaoxi, vice governor of Yunnan Province.

    Initiated by the ADB, the GMS was founded in 1992 to boost economic growth and reduce poverty in the counties along the Mekong, Southeast Asia's longest river. The region is home to 280 million people, most of whom rely on agriculture and fishing.

    The region boasts three road corridors: the north-south road between Kunming, Bangkok and Hanoi; the route from Da Nang in Vietnam and Mawlamyine in Myanmar through Cambodia and Laos; and the route connecting Bangkok and the cities in Cambodia and Vietnam.

    With gradual integration of the GMS, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have become each other's fourth largest trade partner, with trade value reaching 200 billion U.S. dollars in 2008.

    The first GMS Economic Corridors Forum was held in Kunming in June last year after it was proposed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the third GMS Summit in Laos.

Author锛? 銆€銆€銆€Source锛? xinhua 銆€銆€銆€ Editor锛? Yang Fan
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