European Union joins force in promoting cross-border economic linkages

The Delegation of the European Union to Thailand in collaboration with the Office of National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), the United Nation Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and UNESCAP’s Trade and Investment Division held a conference on Uplifting Borders: Taking the GMS to the “Last Mile” with more than 100 participants at Conrad Bangkok Hotel.

“One of the key responsibilities of the NESDB is to establish and maintain coordination mechanism between the NESDB, government agencies, state enterprises and the private sector. This includes providing support and analysis of the government’s regional policy within the context of the neighbouring countries and ASEAN, with an emphasis on streamlining the connection of production chain within the region.” mentioned Dr. Porametee Vimolsiri, NESDB’s Secretary General. “It is within this sphere, that we have organised the event with the EU and UNCDF.”

The ASEAN region remains one of the fastest growing economies globally with a projected GDP growth across the region of 4.7% in 2016, a combined population of about 650 million and a foreign direct investment (FDI) of US$136.2 billion. However, the investment tends to be concentrated in major cities.

“The conference is part of the regional cross-border development programme called Local Transformative and Uplifting Solutions (LoTUS)” said Mr. David Hugh Jackson, UNCDF’s Director of Local Development Finance, “UNCDF has been working to examine the development potentials and opportunities held within the border areas between Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand that straddle the main GMS economic corridors.”

The conference also presented the findings of a border area scoping study and provided insights into the opportunities offered by developing the border areas. The challenge, still, resides in finding the infrastructure investment.

H.E. Mr. Jesus Miguel Sanz, Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand, said in his address “The EU has engaged actively with the ASEAN region. In view of existing development challenges, it is important to make the most effective use of available resources. The EU Blending Facilities, such as the Asia Investment Facility, have demonstrated the capacity to leverage substantial amounts of additional public non-grant financing for important public investments in our partner countries.”

The conference, funded by the European Union through the Thailand-European Union Policy Dialogues Support Facility (PDSF), served as a forum for exchange of information, knowledge and experiences in the area of investment policies & financing and builds networks for regional cooperation.