Laos, Mekong countries discuss challenges to economic development
The 41st Southeast Asia Seminar of Economic Development in Laos and the GMS is being held at the Faculty of Economics and Business Management of the National University of Laos (NUOL) from November 2-7.
The event is being attended by NUOL Vice President Associate Professor Dr Houngphet Chanthavong and Professor of Economics at the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at Japan’s Kyoto University, Dr Fumiharu Mieno.
The seminar is examining the history, policies and future challenges of the region’s economic development and its potential to improve the life of people in the region.
Lectures and group discussions will be supplemented by field observations in the Vientiane area.
While the meetings will focus on Laos it will also maintain a regional perspective on the dynamics of economic developments and challenges faced by the country’s neighbours.
There will be five sessions looking at key industries for economic development, rising agendas on human capital, child labour, the hydropower and mining sectors, infrastructure development cooperation, land and forestry development, microfinance, and the VITA Park special economic zone in Vientiane.
The GMS countries have experienced dynamic economic development in recent years. Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos share several common economic development strategies such as the promotion of agriculture sector, industrialisation using foreign technology, and the management of exports in the natural resources sector.
This economic growth trajectory has been accompanied by drastic changes in traditional social structures in both urban and rural areas and poses urgent challenges to ecological sustainability.
At the same time, geopolitics provides a crucial context for the development of connectivity and transportation infrastructure in the region.
Speaking at the seminar, Associate Professor Dr Chanthavong said “The countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region have experienced dynamic economic development in recent years. However, there are several challenges for us such as poverty, human resources and infrastructure among others.”
“To overcome these challenges and make economic growth in this region sustainable, we need more research, more cooperation and support from this region and outside with countries such as Japan. We also need young people like you to make this region better,” he added.
The conference is an important platform for Laos and other GMS countries to learn, discuss, and exchange views and ideas on the development and challenges in the region. The conference is also an opportunity for participants to create networks.
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