The Development of Border Regions in Southeast Asia: Cross-border Trade in the Vietnam-Lao PDR Border Areas

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Master of Philosophy
Title The Development of Border Regions in Southeast Asia: Cross-border Trade in the Vietnam-Lao PDR Border Areas
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL Thesis 2017.pdf
The thesis examines the Lao Bảo-Dansavanh cross-border trade and economic activities in
the Viet – Lao border areas. For thousands of years the Lao Bảo area has long been a knot in
regional trade and saw violent see-saw battles during the US War period.
After the end of the Cold War in 1990s, there was new a perspective on how to develop the
border not only in the context of conflict resolution but also in terms of regional economic
development and integration among the bordering countries in Southeast Asia. Several
concept of the economic joint development has become popular in the discussions about the
border regions in Southeast Asia since the 1990s, such as growth triangle, growth areas,
development triangle area of Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam (CLV), and Greater Mekong
Subregion Economic Cooperation Program (GMS-ECP). As a result, borders are once again
not viewed as barriers to the relations between bordering nation states but instead; borders
are zones of contacts, economic development and cooperation. The implementation of Đổi
mới policy in 1986 and GMS-ECP in 1992 played an important role to the development of
Lao Bảo- Dansavanh cross-border areas. The development of Lao Bảo cross-border areas is a
result of several cross-borders joint projects launched by GMS countries since 1990s, such as
the Cross-border Trade Agreement, the East West Economic Corridor, and the Lao Bảo
Special Economic and Commercial Area. These agreements brought livelihood to thousands
of has benefited not only to the traders, porters (kéo hàng), money changers (đổi tiền),
entrepreneurs, and speed up movement of goods, people, and services on both sides of the
This study focus on the local ethnic groups at the border, namely the Vân Kiều, Pa Kô, and
Kado, who have participated the border economic activities. The benefits and opportunities have
not been evenly distributed. These people engage in a lower economic chain, such as motor
cycle taxi driver (Xe ôm), porters (kéo hàng), and small traders selling unprocessed crops at
low price. They seem to be excluded from taking larger profit of border development. While
border development has boosted the growth of both cross-border trade and economic
activities, this benefit is less than equally distributed among local peoples.

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