Border Economic Zones and Migration: Release of Fourth Edition in MMN Series of Resource Books on Migration in the GMS

Migration in the Greater Mekong Subregion Resource Book: In-depth Study: Border Economic Zones and Migration

The Mekong Migration Network (MMN) and the Asian Migrant Centre (AMC) are pleased to announce the launch of the Fourth Edition in its series of Resource Books. This edition includes updates on migration issues, policy and regulations, and responses at national and regional levels during 2009 to 2012; as well as an in-depth study on border economic zones and migration.

This publication was conceived at an MMN workshop in 2008 – attended by approximately 90 participants including MMN member organisations, researchers, policy-makers, representatives of international governmental organisations, the Asian Development Bank – where border economic zones (BEZs) were discussed in the context of the workshop theme, ‘Migrants, Migration and Development in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)’. 

Participants at the workshop learnt that many recent development projects have been planned under the framework of the Ayewaddy-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), which focuses on improving joint infrastructure such as transport links between ACMECS member states in order to facilitate trade arrangements and to promote regional tourism. The establishment of Border Economic Zones (BEZs) is one strategy that has been employed in an attempt to formalise and expand border trade in ACMECS countries. These countries envisioned that increased investment in these zones would lead to the creation of additional jobs and a subsequent decrease in the number of workers from poorer countries migrating to find work.

Subsequent to the workshop, MMN members decided to further explore the impact that BEZs are having on migration and the lives of migrants. This book is the outcome of MMN’s collaborative research between 2009 and 2012.

Secondary research was undertaken in relation to the following BEZs:

Thailand-Laos: Savan-Seno;

Thailand-Cambodia: Poipet-Sakeaw; Koh Kong-Tratt;

China-Vietnam: Pinxiangshi (Guang Xi)-Lang Son (Dong Dan); Hekou-Lao Cai;

Thailand-Burma: Mae Sot-Myawaddy; Mae Sai-Tacihlek; Prachuab-Tennarisim; Sangklaburi-Three Pagoda; Kanchanaburi-Tavoy;

China-Burma: Ruili-Muse; Laiza-Myttin;a

China-Laos: Mo Han in Xishuanbanna-Borten;

Cambodia-Vietnam: Bavet-Mocbai; and

Vietnam-Laos: Lao Bao-Xepone, Savvanakkhet.

Primary research was undertaken in Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Thailand, focussing on the following zones:


Koh Kong-Tratt

Mae Sot-Myawaddy


The resource book contains the following sections:

Poster: “Migration in Thailand: Timeline of Facts and Figures”

Tables of migration and socio-economic data for the six GMS countries

Part 1: Overview of country situations: Providing general country overviews including summaries of political, economic and social issues pertinent to migration. Information relating to trade, foreign direct investment (FDI), and official development aid (ODA) is also included in this edition to set the context for the BEZ sections.

Part 2: Overview of migration: Providing an update on migration-related policies and issues.

Part 3: Overview of Border Economic Zones-Based on secondary research: This chapter provides a regional overview of BEZs, including background relating to the establishment of BEZs in respective GMS countries, legal frameworks, and the roles of ODA and FDI in BEZs.

Part 4: In-depth Study on BEZs and Migration-Based on both secondary and primary research: This chapter summarises detailed information and the impact of BEZs in selected border areas, namely Cambodia-Vietnam BEZs, Thailand-Burma/Myanmar BEZs, Thailand-Cambodia BEZs and Thailand- Laos BEZs. Each chapter describes the background, management structure, relevant agreements and policies, current situation and future plans, impact on migration flows and migrants, working and living conditions in BEZs, and impact on local people.

Part 4 also includes Regional Recommendations in relation to:

o   Participation of all stakeholders in the process of BEZ establishment;

o   Protection of land rights in establishment of BEZs;

o   Rights and welfare of migrant workers in BEZs; and

o   BEZs and sustainable development.

MMN sincerely thanks all those involved in the research and publication of this book; and hopes that readers will find it a useful reference in understanding migration and development in the GMS.

In addition to this resource book, please refer to the MMN webpage ( and online resource materials to keep updated with constantly shifting policies concerning migration and labour in the region.

Please feel free to contact the MMN secretariat or AMC with any inquiries:;


PDF of book available here.

Migration in Thailand: Timeline of Facts and Figures. Chart available here