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Hanoi Workshop: Local Economic Development in a Time of Change for ASEAN

Hanoi Workshop: Local Economic Development in a Time of Change for ASEAN

A 3-day workshop that took place from 9 to 11 December 2014 in Hanoi, Vietnam, looked closely at the opportunities and challenges facing local governments in the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

More than 70 participants from seven ASEAN countries took part in the training “Enhancing Inclusive LED and Good Local Governance in ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015: Towards Inclusive Growth, SMEs Development, and Women’s Economic Leadership” that was organized jointly by UCLG ASPAC, OXFAM, FCM and Rockefeller Foundation within the DELGOSEA framework. The aim of the workshop was to develop the capacity of local governments to pursue inclusive local economic growth by promoting and enhancing SME competitiveness, with a focus on enterprise development and women’s economic leadership. 

The attendees who came mainly from national and local government as well as civil society, were brainstorming on a variety of topics, starting with strategies to promote small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on the global and regional market – a vital skill in the new AEC where there will be competition across borders. A related topic, social enterprise and impact investment, also found much interest, with examples for public/private/social partnerships with small enterprises (SE) from across the region being discussed. Which public policies were providing an enabling legal and regulatory environment to nurture the growth of SEs and how could cities promote a culture of social entrepreneurship?

The second day focused on how trade provided opportunities for cities to grow and prosper, starting with an overview of trade basics, emphasizing the role of cities and communities in helping trade develop. This is particularly relevant for SMEs and the information session was followed by an interactive afternoon of working groups that gave participants the chance to design a local government-led trade development imitative, an exercise that was considered particularly helpful and inspiring.

Local economic development (LED) was put into the framework of local governance. Presenting some of DELGOSEA’s best practices and pilot cities as case studies and examples, the importance of good local governance for economic development was discussed as well as the advantages of regional cooperation and knowledge exchange. Local governments play a vital role in providing the conditions and encouraging inclusive economic growth, especially when focusing on policies that are able to reach vulnerable groups.

Attention was also paid to the role of women and a discussion on the links between gender equality and economic growth found much resonance within the group. Local governments can play an important role in enabling equal access to economic resources and power in markets for women, as well as creating specific investment opportunities for women. SME policies can also be used to support women’s economic leadership.

As a way forward and to encourage participants to stay in touch and pursue local economic development further, a working group on LED was formed within UCLG ASPAC. This group will focus on a road map for the development of SMEs in the new AEC: their vision and strategies, role and responsibilities and a checklist for M&E for SMS development.

For more information on the ASEAN Economic Community on 

ACVN’s Roadmap for the Role of Local Governments in the New AEC