CLMV+T as Our Home Market

Thailand is now encountering fast-changing situations in terms of trade and economy. Therefore, the region's economic integration and cooperation, especially between Thailand and the CLMV countries, are deemed crucial for the strong foundation of each country's economic stability. It is necessary for the region to share trade benefits and move towards sustainable growth. More importantly, in a world without boundaries where infrastructure, rules and regulations, and people's quality of life are indisputably connected, is it true that the CLMV countries are packed with potential and many exciting opportunities? How will Thailand be able to collaborate with our neighbours as a single market and how will we make CLMV+T as Our Home Market?

The CLMV countries -- comprising Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam -- are Thailand's important trade partners, with exports of products and services, and investments on an upward trend. During 2009-14, trade between Thailand and the CLMV cluster soared from US$15.699 billion to US$30.534 billion, with a growth rate of 5-8%. It is believed that the region's overall economy will continue to enjoy steady growth. The CLMVT have a combined population of 235 million people, who will need an enormous amount of consumer goods and investment. Thus, the sub-region is in the spotlight of the international investor community.

Opportunities to Unlock Trade Obstacles in CLMV

The CLMV countries are generally politically stable, with minimal changes in administrations in past years as well as clear-cut policies. As less developed countries, they enjoy many privileges from developed nations such as the Generalised System of Preferences from the European Union, the United States and Australia. Furthermore, the CLMV countries are rich in resources such as raw materials, natural resources and energy (e.g. natural gas and hydroelectricity), and generally have low-cost labour. Such strengths are suitable for labour-intensive industries such as the garment, textile, shoe and agricultural industries. Nevertheless, the CLMV countries still lack skilled labour and expertise in conducting business abroad. In addition, weakened and inefficient trade laws, substandard infrastructure and the high cost of logistics make it necessary for the CLMV countries to solicit development assistance from foreign countries, including Thailand.

Thailand-CLMV Cooperation

Thailand has a fairly close relationship with its neighbours in the Ayeyarwaddy-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), which was established to profit from the strengths and diversity of the five member countries to facilitate trade and investment, agriculture, industry, energy and transportation linkages.

Moreover, the grouping will also lead to more cooperation in systems and academic development, e.g. ICT development for industrial trade databases and for SMEs in neighbouring countries under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA); and training and trade visits conducted by the Department of Trade Negotiations.

All of this will pave the way for business, investment promotion and an expanded production base in the CLMVT countries. However, with high operational costs, there is still a need for the exchange of information regarding investment, market characteristics, regulations, related measures and laws, consumer patterns and demands, as well as in-depth information on business networking.

CLMVT Forum 2018

Realising the CLMVT's hidden potential, the Ministry of Commerce, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Industry, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI) and the Mekong Institute, is organizing "The CLMVT Forum 2016: Towards a Shared Prosperity" during June 16-18, 2016, at the Dusit Thani Hotel, Bangkok. Its objectives are: 1) To demonstrate to the world the potential of the CLMVT countries in terms of sustainable development. The forum will hear the views of global business leaders on the region's development efforts, potential, strengths and weaknesses as Asia's New Growth Engine. 2) To identify problems and obstacles, and to seek ways to expand intra-regional connectivity. 3) To brainstorm and incubate new business start-ups, human resource development, and the promotion of health, livelihood and quality of life. 4) To contemplate on how to make the most of the digital age for future development.

The inaugural CLMVT Forum will bring together prominent business people, rising-star entrepreneurs, top policy makers in trade, investment and tourism, and leading academics. The forum will be a common ground for exchanging information and networking. The CLMVT group has set a goal to organise the forum annually to bolster cooperation between the countries so that they shine in the international arena, to sustainably grow together, and to develop the CLMVT countries as a "Single Market", as the hub of ASEAN, based on the "CLMVT+T as Our Home Market" concept.