Mekong Monitor: Mekong countries agree to strengthen tourism cooperation
Photo credit: Cambodia Ministry of Tourism
TRADE, ECONOMY, AND INVESTMENT
Mekong countries agree to strengthen tourism cooperation
(2 December 2019) Countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) inked an agreement during a recent working group meeting to realise their 2020-2025 joint action plan. Under the plan, the countries will cooperate to boost tourism in their subregions, such as through joint promotional activities as well as infrastructure and human capital development. The GMS received over 67.5 million foreign visitors in 2018. Separately, the Cambodian government established a National Tourism Development Committee chaired by a deputy prime minister to help drive growth in the sector.
Cambodia and Vietnam to launch new border trade market
(1 December 2019) Cambodia and Vietnam will be launching a new border market known as Da Market in Cambodia’s Tbong Khmum province along the countries’ shared border in conjunction with the Cambodia-Vietnam Trade Fair to be held later this month. The market, which began construction in February 2018, spans 19,500 square meters in the province’s Thary Tbong Khmum Special Economic Zone. According to province officials, cross-border trade through their province reached US$970 million in 2017 and US$1.2 billion in 2018. Overall Cambodia-Vietnam trade is expected to reach US$5 billion this year.
Myanmar bans imports of Thai rubber trees due to fungal outbreak
(2 December 2019) Myanmar’s agriculture department has halted imports of rubber trees, seeds, seedlings and saplings from Thailand following the outbreak of a pestalotiopsis fungal infection in Thai rubber trees. The fungus is known to cause rubber trees to lose its leaves and lower the quality of latex that a rubber tree produces. According to a government official, the nationwide ban will remain in effect indefinitely though the ban is expected to have limited impact on the local rubber market since raw rubber and rubber latex can still be imported.
Thailand’s cross-border trade registers 1.94% dip
(29 November 2019) Thailand’s border trade value recorded a 1.94% year-on-year dip from January to October this year totalling US$37 billion. The Commerce Ministry has largely attributed the drop to the lacklustre global economy, prolonged trade war, volatile foreign exchange and strong baht. Exports accounted for US$20.7 billion of the sum, while imports accounted for US$16.5 billion. Malaysia remained Thailand’s top border trade partner with trade reaching US$14.5 billion, while trade with Laos fetched US$5.5 billion, Myanmar US$5.4 billion, and Cambodia US$4.4 billion.
Myanmar trade unions to push for higher minimum wage
(29 November 2019) The Confederation of Trade Unions in Myanmar (CTUM) announced last week that they will submit a proposal to the national minimum wage committee proposing an increase in the wage floor from US$3.20 (4,800 kyats) to US$4.80 (7,200 kyats) per day, or US$0.60 per hour for an eight-hour work day. The new rate was determined based on survey results from eight key states and regions. Nevertheless, CTUM member U Win Zaw expects negotiations to be challenging since the proposed rate is a significant jump from the current rate.
About Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)
The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Programme was launched by the Asian Development Bank in 1992 connecting five developing ASEAN countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, and Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region. The region has some of the most robust economies sharing the Mekong River Basin thanks to its reform and liberalisation. The subregion is growing at a faster pace than the whole of East Asia and the Asia Pacific as the GDP growth rate for 2017 was at 6.4 percent, according to the World Bank. The population at the subregion as of 2016 is at 340 million while the GDP at PPP is at US$3.1 trillion in 2016. In 2015, trading within the region was at US$444 billion.