Cross-border economic zones (CBEZ) located at border ports between two countries are a particular kind of special economic zone (SEZ). Especially in Asia, the recent years have shown a growth of these zones as a tool for development, often in less-developed border areas. CBEZ can facilitate trade and investment activities and are an important tool for the development of economic corridors such as the North-South Corridor connecting China and the ASEAN region. However, the bilateral management of such zones proves to be challenging.

To tackle this issue, and to enhance the planning and management of Sino-Vietnamese cross-border economic zones the Department of Commerce (DofCom) of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (AR) and the Ministry of Industry of Trade (MoIT) of Vietnam jointly organised a study tour to the Horgos CBEZ connecting Xinjiang, China and Kazakhstan as well as the Boten-Mohan CBEZ between Yunnan, China and Lao PDR. GIZ was engaged early on in the planning and contributed financially to the participation of 17 Vietnamese government officials.

The study tour provided the participants hands-on experience of the functioning and well-implemented zones and provided a platform for joint learning and understanding for both countries. The success of a CBEZ relies on a good integration in national development plans and effective implementation on the local level. Hence, participants came from the central government a well as from the border provinces of Cao Bang and Lang Son in Vietnam.

The connections and the experience will inform the cooperation between Vietnam and Guangxi AR about the policies of current existing CBEZ and the planning of future cooperation.