Japan-Mekong Business Forum -Five leaders gather to promote business in Mekong region-

October 2018

Taking advantage of the opportunity presented by the Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting in Tokyo in the morning of October 9, JETRO held the Japan-Mekong Business Forum under the theme of "The Dynamic Mekong Region: Asia’s New Value Chain Hub" by inviting the leaders of the five Mekong countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting has been held every year since 2009, once every three years in Japan. JETRO also held a business forum by inviting the five leaders on the occasion of the last summit in Tokyo in July, 2015.

Touching on the dramatic change of the business environment in each Mekong country as well as the region in its entirety over the past three years, JETRO Chairman and CEO Hiroyuki Ishige had this to say in his opening remarks: "I believe that the Mekong is one of the most dynamic areas in the world in terms of the pace of growth and potential." He also emphasized that the power which will be able to maintain this dynamism and raise the region to a much higher level is that of private companies.

In the first part, the “leaders’ session,” Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun, State Counselor Suu Kyi of Myanmar, Thai Prime Minister Prayut and Vietnamese Prime Minister Phuc respectively explained the attractiveness of their own investment environments and future development visions in their own words toward over 500 audience members consisting mainly of Japanese business people with interest in doing business in the region.

In the second part, the “business session,” presentations were delivered by representatives from Japanese companies operating in the Mekong region including Nippon Express, AEON and Denso. While progress can be seen in trade systems facilitating regional integration, such as the launch of the Early Harvest Implementation in the Cross-Border Transport Agreement (CBTA) and the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), regarding the CBTA, it was pointed out that only Thailand among the five Mekong countries is issuing permission for cross-border transport as of now.

Following that, private companies reported on achievements of pilot projects* implemented within the Mekong region by utilizing JETRO's program which assists collaboration between Japanese and ASEAN companies in new industrial fields.

Inviting 15 local companies from the five Mekong countries, JETRO also held a matching event titled "The Mekong Japan Business Meetup" in tandem with the forum. It was joined by 159 Japanese companies and a total of 136 business talks took place.

JETRO will continue to take advantage of opportunities presented by visits to Japan by ranking officials and devote efforts to further strengthen economic ties with each country and region through the facilitation of business in a two-way manner.

* “Project for Nurturing New Industries in ASEAN and Japan”
In digital, healthcare and other new industrial fields, this project assists Japanese companies in facilitating business collaboration beyond borders and expanding business in the market with the aim of developing products and services through cooperation between Japanese and ASEAN companies.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen

Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun

State Counselor Suu Kyi of Myanmar

Thai Prime Minister Prayut

Vietnamese Prime Minister Phuc