GMS-FRETA (Thailand)

The Greater Mekong Sub-region Business Forum (GMS-BF) is a multi-country, independent, non-governmental and not-for-profit organization, and a joint initiative of the Chambers of Commerce of the six GMS countries. It plays an important role in promoting awareness of trade and investment opportunity in the GMS. The GMS-BF has expanded its organization to include corporate members representing national and multinational companies operating in the Mekong Sub-region .

The GMS-BF’s role is to provide feedback to senior officials and leaders of the GMS on trade and investment in the form of reports to economic corridors forums, to GMS Ministers Meetings and to GMS Leaders at the GMS Summits. GMS-BF activities provide feedback on the implementation of the Cross Border Transport Agreement (CBTA), promote business operations under established legal frameworks, and promote business networking along the Economic Corridors.

The GMS Freight Transport Association (GMS-FRETA) was established on 19th December 2011 at the 4th GMS Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar to facilitate the implementation of the GMS CBTA, and to promote the business environment in the GMS Economic Corridors.

One of the objectives of the GMS cooperation is to increase intra-trade as a means to increasing the welfare and prosperity of the population. The facilitation of trade and transport within the region through removal of obstacles to such trade is an important development tool. The GMS countries, in co-operation with the ADB, introduced a program of infrastructure development to remove physical obstacles to cross border transport and, in parallel, the CBTA to remove administrative obstacles. The Infrastructure program, though not quite complete, has been a great success. However, the CBTA has not been fully implemented. Progress that has been made in transport facilitation has been the result of national and/or bilateral measures. One major reason for this failure to date to make progress is that the CBTA has had no champion. None of the existing Trade or Transport Organizations are, at present, accepting responsibility for actually furthering either the CBTA or any other similar set of measures.

GMS-FRETA will act as the mouthpiece of traders and transport companies in bringing issues to the attention of the authorities at the highest level. There is at present no channel of communication to the GMS Ministers or Leaders on the actual situation at the borders. GMS-FRETA would fill that gap. GMS-FRETA is not duplicating, nor is it usurping, the role of any other organisations. GMS-FRETA look forward to support from the Governments, Logistics Associations and Logistics Companies to improve trade and transport through the introduction of world class international logistics to the region. As a new player in this game GMS-FRETA will seek a cooperative role with the National Transport and Trade Facilitation Committees.

Cost of Logistics: All regional governments are concerned at the relatively high cost of logistics within the GMS. GMS-FRETA would apply proven techniques of cost analysis to each economic corridor through the GMS to identify, and promote the elimination of, unnecessary cost factors.

Implementation of the CBTA Annex No.9: The CBTA called for free circulation of qualified vehicles throughout the region, but nobody has ever drawn up, agreed and applied any such rules. GMS-FRETA would draw  up, and present to the national authorities and associations standards  for vehicles, drivers and documentation acceptable to all GMS countries and set up, through cooperation with out-sourced service providers, facilities for inspection and testing , with certification issued by GMS-FRETA accepted as neutral in all countries.

Standards of Good Corporate Governance: Customs, other government authorities, insurance companies and Development Agencies have plans to extend preferential treatment to companies in “good standing”, which will also include “Green Standards”. GMS-FRETA is willing to be a neutral body to set standards of good governance, and to audit and certify companies to those standards.

Capacity Building for Transport Enterprises: GMS-FRETA would also be willing to set up training courses for managers and truck drivers of transport companies, certifying qualified transport managers and truck drivers. It would be a pre-requisite for “good standing” certification that at least one of their managers be trained/certified to this standard.

Access to Finance: GMS-FRETA would also be willing and able to act as a channel or implementing body for accessing development funds and credits, both for the development of training and also for the up-grading of  fleets and facilities of transport enterprises in the GMS. The aim would be to qualify them for  “good standing”.

Trade and Transport Data Base: GMS-FRETA, together with local partners in each country and at each border, would set up a monitoring system and database to fill the present almost total lack of information on the volumes, type, value and destinations of cross-border movements. The network would also record the actual, on-the-ground regulatory framework at each border. GMS-FRETA would ensure that this information is available to Governments, Development Agencies and operators.

Development of Ro-Ro Transports: GMS-FRETA is willing to enhance the connectivity of GMS Economic Corridors to some international routes within the GMS and SE Asia, by using Roll-on Roll-off (Ro-Ro) ferries to link existing corridors to interesting markets. Putting a trailer on a Roll-on Roll-off (Ro-Ro) ferry can be faster, cheaper and more ecologically sustainable than using a truck on road all the way through. Examples are: Pearl River Delta to Danang  (for EWEC) and South Vietnam to Malaysia; More potential routes will become profitable as volumes grow.

Exchange of Truck Heads and Trailers : (Particularly in the case of Ro-Ro movement) Although the prime movers (“heads”) do not need to travel on the ship and into a foreign country the trailers do. For such a system to work the trailers must be able to move on the roads of the foreign country without having the cargo trans-loaded. Simply a new, local, “head” pulls the trailer.
New rules allowing this, and setting out the conditions, must be agreed and applied.  GMS-FRETA is willing to assist with these negotiations.

Development of the Rail Network: By world standards the rail network in the GMS area is underdeveloped and cannot play its natural role in transport of point-to-point bulk cargo such as minerals, grains, fuel and containers. GMS-FRETA is willing and qualified to take over an advisory role in the development and implementation of rail policy within the GMS.


GMS-FRETA is registered in Lao PDR as an International Private Voluntary Organization under the umbrella of the GMS-BF. The board of directors comprises of representatives of National Chambers of Commerce and Industry; National Transport and Freight Forwarders’ Associations; local Transport and Freight Forwarding Enterprises; and representatives from Multinational Freight Transport Companies.


The Inaugural General Assembly and Board Meeting of GMS-FRETA were held in Vientiane, Lao PDR on 30th October 2012. At the two meetings, GMS-FRETA board members elected the Association’s Office Bearers. Dr. Thanit Sorat, Vice-President of the Federation of Thai Industry and Chairman of V-Serve Logistics Thailand was elected as Chairman; Mr. Paul Apthorp, Director of Transport Operation for Asia, UPS-TNT World Wide as Vice-Chairman; Mr. Somphone Phasavath, Vice-General Manager of Lao Freight Forwarders (LFF) as Treasurer, Ms. Ge Min Director All China Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACFIC) as auditor. Mr. Oudet Souvannavong, Secretary general of GMS-BF was elected as Secretary General.


GMS Business Forum – Secretariat

LNCCI Building
Kaysone Phomvihane Avenue
Saysettha District, Vientiane Capital,

Tel: +856-21-720437
Fax: +856-21-720438