Governance Systems of Special Economic Zones in the Greater Mekong Subregion


Announcing: Walsh, John, “Governance Systems of Special Economic Zones in the Greater Mekong Subregion,” paper presented at the SIU International Conference (January 30-31st, 2013).


Special Economic Zones (SEZs) represent means by which governments can seek to change the distribution of the comparative advantages within their territory so as to promote developmental goals by reducing or augmenting on a systematic basis the uneven development of the areas involved. SEZs include industrial estate, export processing zones, science parks and all other areas in which the normal regime of laws and regulations are amended to encourage the investment that is intended to give rise to the synergistic proximity of economic activities and the development of value-adding clusters. However, these desirable outcomes are far from guaranteed: the intentions of individual investors may be quite disparate, the range of economic activities undertaken may not be conducive to positive sum agglomeration or some lack in the infrastructure provided may hinder effective cooperation and collaboration. One of the principal means of trying to influence the extent to which developmental goals may be achieved through instituting SEZs is by the governance system used to manage them. This paper examines the governance systems employed by governments in the Greater Mekong Subregion (i.e. Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Yunnan Province of China), which is an area in which SEZs have played an important role in promoting economic development and is witnessing rapid building of new areas in every country. Analysis of the different governance systems provides understanding of which have been more successful in the past and, consequently, which are likely to be successful in the future.

Keywords: governance, Mekong subregion, special economic zones

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