Int'l Cooperation

Last updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2019


For a Prosperous, Integrated and Equal GMS

Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) is a large territorial area comprised of six countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, China (Yunnan and Guangxi provinces) and Vietnam, with an area of 2.3 million square kilometres and a population of about 350 million. The GMS is basically a natural economic area bound together by the Mekong River and featuring common ground in history and culture.

In 1992, with assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the six countries entered into a programme of subregional economic cooperation, designed to enhance economic relations among the countries.

The goal of GMS Economic Cooperation is to create a prosperous, inclusive and equal subregion. The immediate objective of this programme is to promote joint activities in the most potential areas (infrastructure, trade, investment, tourism, environmental protection and human resource development) to provide a favourable environment for developing long-term economic cooperation; promote, facilitate and support economic cooperation and mutual benefits among GMS members.

Themed “Leveraging 25 years of cooperation, Building an integrated, sustainable and prosperous GMS”, the sixth GMS Summit (GMS6) aims to celebrate the 25th founding anniversary of the GMS Programme and define cooperation orientations to build a region of prosperity, integration and sustainable development.
The GMS Business Summit Forum will be held for the first time within the framework of the GMS-6 as an initiative of host Vietnam with the aim of promoting dialogues between authorities and businesses and forging links between regional and global businesses.

The 10th Cambodia - Laos - Vietnam Development Triangle Summit (CLV-10) aims to review the implementation of the Master Plan for Socioeconomic Development of the CLV Development Triangle Area for 2010 - 2020, discuss cooperation orientations in the time to come, and seek ways to enhance the trilateral economic connectivity.

These are among the largest multilateral events to be held in Vietnam in 2018. GMS 6 and CLV-10 are expected to bring together 2,000 attendants, including leaders of GMS states; representatives of international organisations such as ADB President, WB General Director, ASEAN Secretary General, AIIB Representative and JICA Representative; representatives of development partners; representatives of GMS localities; and representatives from big corporations in the region and the world.

GMS Cooperation focuses on nine priority areas: Transport, Energy, Environment, Tourism, Telecommunications, Trade, Investment, Human Resource Development and Agriculture.

Transport and Development of Subregional Economic Corridors
GMS transport projects aim to build prioritised transport corridors linking the subregion and linking transport networks to residential centres, tourist destinations, markets and other centres of economic activity. Main transport corridors form the foundation for three major economic corridors of GMS, namely (i) North - South Economic Corridor, (ii) East - West Economic Corridor, and (iii) Southern Economic Corridor.

Transport infrastructure is also the most prominent field of cooperation, focused on the three key economic corridors: (i) North - South Economic Corridor (NSEC), (ii) East - West Economic Corridor (EWEC), which was completed in early 2007 and became the first operational corridor in the Mekong sub-region, and (iii) Southern Economic Corridor (SEC), scheduled for completion in 2010-2012. Vietnam belongs to the East - West Economic Corridor (EWEC) which runs across the subregion from Da Nang City (Vietnam) to Laos, Thailand and Myanmar along Highway 9.

Transport and trade assistance
GMS Transport and Trade Assistance focuses on non-physical or “software” measures to enhance connectivity and cohesion among GMS member states to promote investment and trade cross border. Under the Agreement on the Facilitation of Cross Border Transport of Persons and Goods (GMS Agreement) signed in 1999, the GMS countries have to date signed all three protocols and appendices to the GMS Agreement.

Most lately, the sixth Joint Committee Meeting was held in Hanoi on March 15 to implement the GMS Cross Border Transport Facilitation Agreement (GMS-CBTA), attended by leaders of the Ministry of Transport of six GMS countries, including Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. The contents discussed consisted of amendments to Protocol No. 1 (corridors, routes, entry-exit points) of GMS-CBTA Agreement; preparations of relevant documents for the signing of the Early Harvest Memorandum; date of implementation and exchange of lists of transport operators, amendments to internal legal documents; and review of implementation and preparations of each GMS country.

GMS energy cooperation aims to establish a competitive and integrated regional energy market by developing rich energy resources of GMS. This will improve energy security and enhance access to modern and affordable energy for people.

To facilitate the purchase and transmission of electricity and water in the subregion, the GMS countries signed the Agreement on Regional Power Trade at the GMS Summit in November 2002 and the Memorandum of Understanding on enforcement of the Agreement on Regional Power Trade in July 2005. In terms of telecommunications, the GMS telecom network construction project has been prioritised in ADB-funded GMS telecommunications cooperation.

The GMS Core Agriculture Support Programme (CASP) of the second phase (2011 - 2020) targets a subregion that will be globally recognised as a leading safe food producer with climate-friendly agricultural practices and integration with global markets through regional economic corridors.

The GMS Core Environment Programme aims to form a region where economic growth goes hand in hand with environmental protection, focused on three priority themes: biodiversity and poverty reduction, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and capacity building.

Human Resource Development
The GMS Human Resource Development Strategy and Action Plan focuses on promoting cooperation in health, education, labour and migration, and social development. Collaborative projects include programmes for communicable disease control, HIV/AIDS prevention, safe migration, technical and vocational training, higher education and research.

Urban Development
Urban development in the GMS focuses investment on priority urban services and infrastructure in small and medium cities along the GMS transport corridors. In addition to the purpose of preparing for population growth, these investments will help transform transport corridors into economic corridors and improve access to employment and rural markets.

The GMS tourism sector will build and promote GMS as a single destination with a variety of high-quality, subregional products that will help allocate tourism benefits on a broader scale while minimising negative impacts. Investing in tourism infrastructure and combining capacity building, community-based tourism training and development will help poverty reduction, job creation and sustainable development. Six contents have been developed with the support of ADB, namely Promoting GMS as a destination for visitors; training tourism human resources; training managers of tourism preservation and development; studying on Mekong - Lancang tourism development; developing tourism in rural areas; and developing North - South Tourism Corridor.

Information and communications technology
Efforts for information and communication technology in GMS aim to improve telecommunications connectivity, provide information and communication technology applications, and facilitate access to information to reduce transaction costs and improve competitiveness in GMS.

Cross-border economic zones and multi-sector coordination
The focus of the GMS Strategic Framework on the development of Economic Corridors has catalysed and increased interest in special economic zones, particularly border gate economic zones, which require the coordination of many sectors.

Nguyen Thanh

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