Characterizing Triangular Cooperation in Southeast Asia: Comparing the Thai-GermanLao and Thai-GermanVietnamese Partnerships

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New actors and cross-regional modalities have continued to enrich the understanding and practices of development cooperation. With the emergence of new providers within the global aid landscape there is a need to explore definitional and operational changes in the system with regards to how resources are utilized and diversified. This research project characterizes the hybrid model of development cooperation in the Greater Mekong Sub-region and investigate the roles of Thailand as an emerging donor and Germany as a resource provider under the Trilateral Cooperation Programme. The paper discusses how organizational strategies and comparative advantages of each partner contributed to the effectiveness of the Thai-GermanLao Trilateral Cooperation on Strengthening Lao National Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in Lao PDR and the Thai-German-Vietnamese trilateral cooperation on Strengthening Cooperative Management in Western Highland and Central Region of Vietnam. The results suggest that the incentive mechanisms to steer the action of stakeholders under the TrC project in Lao PDR differ from that of Vietnam. The level of competitiveness witnessed in Lao PDR has been a reflection of the coercive nature of policy transfer as opposed to the voluntary knowledge assets transfer that underpin the innovation and performance improvement in Vietnamese case. While Lao Gap TrC highlights the implementation of learned/transferred knowledge to develop a set of skills, Vietnam SMEs Coop TrC emphasizes the adaptation and application of learned skills to facilitate and support others for effective execution. These results have significant implication in regards to the sustainability of the proposed development solutions. Lessons learned highlight the needs to address absorptive capacity of target beneficiaries, the importance of joint initiative, country ownership, participatory policymaking, harmonization processes, and result-based management in all stages of the cooperation.

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