The GMS region lies between the Indian and Pacific Oceans and connects with strongly growing Asia-Pacific regions such as North East Asia, South Asia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the southern Pacific Ocean countries, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha stressed in his opening speech.
He described this as a big advantage for the GMS countries to attract investment, develop industry and tourism.
With their close coordination, the GMS nations are striving to expand economic integration and connectivity to ensure shared sustainable prosperity, he said, adding that the forum enables the involved parties to increase collaboration and trust, thus playing a more active and responsible role in the international community.
During the three-day forum, participants will engage in a number of discussions to exchange ideas about developing the economy and increasing the competitive edge in the sub-region.
Close to 600 delegates from the GMS countries, Europe and Japan are expected to join the event, encompassing small- and medium-sized enterprises.
The long-term goal of the forum is promoting sub-regional cooperation, removing trade and investment barriers, and enhancing dialogues between governments and private economic sectors.
Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Cam Tu told reporters from Vietnam News Agency that the GMS countries should promote their strength as a part of ASEAN with a good infrastructure network and connectivity with major partners such as India, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
He called on the countries to seek measures to make full use of their advantages and address restrictions to reduce the development gaps between ASEAN member states, creating momentum for a successful ASEAN Economic Community.
Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam have seen an average economic growth of 5.8% from 2011 to 2014 with the current average per capita income of US$2,927 and a combined population of 235 million.
Thailand boasts higher development in terms of infrastructure, manufacturing, services and finances.
Close cooperation between the five countries is expected to make the sub-region more competitive in Asia-Pacific and beyond.