Converging Mekong sub-regional cooperation with ASEAN goals

15:32 | 15/07/2020 Cooperation

ASEAN sub-regional frameworks are playing more and more important role in building ASEAN Community and this co-operation should be further enhanced in the future, said Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh.  

He made such statement at the ASEAN Forum on Sub-regional Development: Converging Mekong sub-regional cooperation with ASEAN goals that was held in the form of a teleconference in Hanoi on July 14.

converging mekong sub regional cooperation with asean goals
Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh spoke at the conference

After 25 years of economic integration, ASEAN has become one of the most vibrant and dynamic economies in the world. In particular, the formal establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of 2015 was a major milestone in the regional economic integration agenda of ASEAN, which made it become the fifth largest economy in the world with a combined GDP of 3 trillion USD in 2018, a trade powerhouse with the regional trade reached 2.8 trillion USD in 2019, and a promising investment destination with total FDI inflows of 160.6 billion USD in 2019.

Moreover, ASEAN’s position in the world has been enhanced gradually in the past years thanks to the success in its integration progress” – he said.

According to Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh, in terms of transport, the development corridors under the sub-regional programs such as Greater Mekong Sub-region, Mekong – Japan have contributed significantly to ASEAN transport connectivity and created an important foundation for ASEAN to begin expanding its links outside the region.

In fact, 10.000 km of road was built under the development of the three Mekong sub-regional economic corridors. In energy area, ASEAN and its sub-regional partners share convergent goal and strategy in developing a reliable and secure supply of energy within the region, for example, the ASEAN Power Grid interconnections between the Laos PDR and Thailand are included in the GMS pipeline of investment projects. The support from sub-regional partners through some initiatives and projects such as “Initiative for ASEAN Integration for CLMV countries”, “Promotion of Competitiveness for ASEAN Integration” not only helped sub-regional countries to improve their capacity but also shorten the development gaps within ASEAN.

converging mekong sub regional cooperation with asean goals

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung, who chaired the forum, stressed the strategic role of the Mekong sub-region, saying the development of a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Mekong region would help to consolidate ASEAN’s position in the regional architecture and build the ASEAN community.

The delegates looked into such issues as the role of sub-regional economic corridors in regional connectivity and economic links between ASEAN and partners, challenges to sustainable development and the role of development partners in sub-regional cooperation, among others.

They heard a report on the Mekong sub-region’s development by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).

According to the report, cooperation within the framework of the Mekong sub-region is the most successful initiative over the past three decades, which has greatly contributed to regional economic development and poverty reduction.

However, the Mekong region has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to overcome these challenges, these countries need to make changes to catch up with new global economic trends and better utilise scientific and technological advances, especially amidst the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the popularity of digital technology, the report said.

The institute suggested Mekong countries adjust policies with priorities given to connectivity, industrialisation, social welfare, and sustainable development.

In his closing remarks, Dung said Viet Nam, as ASEAN Chair 2020, will continue its close coordination with other ASEAN member countries and partner countries to promote the multi-field, multi-partner, and multi-level approach, for a united, resilient and responsive ASEAN.

Nguyễn Hường