16:21 | 01/12/2016 Cooperation
(VEN) - The eighth Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam Cooperation Summit (CLMV 8), the seventh Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy Summit (ACMECS 7), and the World Economic Forum on the Mekong Region (WEF Mekong) took place in Hanoi, Vietnam from October 24-26. Joint statements and commitments released at these events indicate that economic connectivity is one of the key factors contributing to the prosperity of the Mekong sub-region.
ACMECS 7 and CLMV 8: For a prosperous Mekong sub-region
The Hanoi Declaration released at ACMECS 7 focused on cooperation in priority areas to strengthen regional connectivity, facilitate the participation of member economies in global value chains, and assist member countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
ACMECS countries agreed to strengthen multimodal transportation connectivity, make full use of existing road networks and the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC), the North-South Economic Corridor (NSEC), and the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC), build highways along the SEC, including the Ho Chi Minh City-Phnom Penh Highway, and develop new routes connecting ACMECS countries.
To facilitate trade and investment, ACMECS will harmonize and simplify customs clearance procedures, and develop small and medium-sized businesses.
In tourism, ACMECS welcomed more than 52 million international visitors and nine million intra-regional tourists in 2015. ACMECS will promote green tourism and diversify tourism products to create a wide range of river, land, and sea tours. CLMV countries agreed to boost cooperation in transport through measures such as accelerating the construction of new roads and improving existing routes alongside the NSEC, the EWEC, and the SEC; facilitating air transportation through the implementation of the CLMV Agreement on Air Transportation as well as other bilateral and multilateral agreements pertaining to air services.
In the coming time, regional countries will promote cross-border trade through the harmonization of border trade regulations and the development of border markets; encourage concerned organizations and businesses to organize and participate in trade fairs and investment workshops in the region; and create favorable conditions for businesses of CLMV countries to invest in each other’s markets.
WEF Mekong: Economic connectivity is important
This year Vietnam hosted WEF Mekong for the first time. According to Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, the forum addressed many important issues such as infrastructure development, trade, investment, and acceleration of industrialization and inclusive growth in the context of the fourth industrial revolution.
Deputy PM Minh emphasized that the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community and tightened regional and global economic links have opened a large development space for the Mekong region. At the same time, it increased the development gap between countries as well as between the rich and the poor. Low labor costs will no longer be an advantage, while climate change and environmental degradation are becoming increasingly serious.
Deputy PM Minh highlighted the importance of economic connectivity to the prosperity of the Mekong region, putting emphasis on infrastructure connections, economic links, and trade, investment, and tourism facilitation.
Sharing this opinion, Cambodian PM Hunsen said Mekong countries need to concentrate on maintaining peace and stability and make joint efforts to deal with problems affecting the competitiveness of the entire region.
PM Hunsen also indicated the importance of cross-border cooperation in strengthening regional supply and value chains, as well as in developing regional industrial corridors and exclusive cross-border economic zones.
In the opinion of Lao PM Thongloun Sisoulith, Mekong countries need to increase cooperation in simplifying procedures in border areas to facilitate cross-border trade.
Thai Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak said Thailand supports free trade agreements, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). These agreements play an important role in seeking investment to develop infrastructure in the region, especially the EWEC and SEC.
According to Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak, with these two economic corridors, the Mekong sub-region will offer a stable transport link between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, facilitating East and South Asia’s trade with Europe.
Phuong Lan & Dinh Dung