UN urges Mekong leaders to boost trade at Hanoi summit

26 October 2016
UN urges Mekong leaders to boost trade at Hanoi summit
(L-R) Laos' Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Myanmar's President Htin Kyaw, Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Le Luong Minh pose for a group photo during the 8th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam Summit (CLMV-8) in Hanoi, Vietnam, 26 October 2016. Photo: Minh Hong/EPA/POOL

United Nations representatives and government leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam gathered on Wednesday in Hanoi for three major summits to further economic cooperation.
The Vietnamese capital this week is hosting three events including the 7th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy Summit (ACMECS), the 8th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam Summit (CLMV) and the World Economic Forum on Mekong.
The CLMV countries, comprised of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, are discussing how to boost their attractiveness as locations for investment, manufacturing and marketing, according to Thailand's ASEAN Economic Community page.
Speaking to CLMV prime ministers today, the Executive Secretary for the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) stressed the importance of trade blocs working together to collectively achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
"It is imperative that development gap between CLMV countries and ASEAN be narrowed," said Shamshad Akhtar, as posted on the official UNESCAP Twitter.
According to the World Economic Forum, the Mekong's "potential to become an economic powerhouse is undeniable" but opportunities are squandered by the failure of neighbors to cooperate, with only 7.4 percent of total exports from Mekong countries going to other Mekong countries.
ACMECS was founded in 2003 by now-ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to facilitate cross-border investment, trade and transport between its five member states, according to the Asian Development Bank.
Meanwhile some 150 participants are expected to attend the WEF Mekong, including multinational companies working across Asia and senior ministerial representatives.