VIETNAM has been making practical contributions to turning the Mekong sub-region into a dynamic and prosperous economic area via two crucial cooperation frameworks.
That is according to the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister
“As the Mekong region steps into a new stage of development, full of opportunities and challenges, the cooperation in the framework of CLMV and ACMECS will further bring into play advantages and potential to ensure the economic growth of the five Mekong countries,” Minh said.
Minh said Vietnam, as the eastern gateway of the Mekong sub-region, was an indispensable component of the East-West Economic Corridor and the South Economic Corridor.
The country has proactively proposed and implemented many ideas, contributed to the drafting of numerous important documents, and promoted initiatives for the sub-region’s development, while providing development assistance to other countries in the region, including assistance in terms of human resources and infrastructure.
In the CLMV framework, Vietnam has created a CLMV scholarship fund which offers dozens of scholarships to students from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar each year. The programme is appreciated by beneficiary countries which have recommended extending it during 2016-2020.
Vietnam acts as a coordinator in many fields in both CLMV and ACMECS frameworks, and has implemented many practical activities helping promote comprehensive co-operation among countries. Well aware of the importance of the sustainable use of natural resources in the Mekong river basin, Vietnam actively promoted co-operation on environment and management of water resources. Vietnam is the first country to raise the idea of establishing a working group on environment within the framework of ACMECS and currently is a co-chair of the group.
In 2016, Vietnam hosted several meetings of specialised working groups and senior officials of the CLMV and ACMECS. The country undertook a number of improvements to help the working groups be more professionally organised and coordinate more smoothly, which was welcomed by CLMV and ACMECS member nations.
Minh said Asean had taken a long time to successfully set up an Asean community with the core values of solidarity, consensus, and “unity in diversity”.
However, one of the obstacles for the community is uneven development among the members, especially between CLMV and six other members. Enhancing the development cooperation among the four countries was an objective requirement of Asean integration.
The first CLMV Summit, held in Vientiane in 2004, affirmed the determination of the four countries for common benefits, and called on the assistance of international organisations to promote economic development and social improvement in the Mekong region.
“The CLMV cooperation is an open mechanism to develop the potential and advantages of each country as well as call on financial and technical assistance from other Asean members”, Minh said.
“This is also a forum for the CLMV countries to exchange viewpoints to protect their own interests during the economic integration process with Asean members as well as other partners such as the US, China, Japan, South Korea and the European Union.”
Along with the CLMV cooperation, the four countries and Thailand set up the ACMECS, with an overall purpose of peace, stability and prosperity.
The ACMECS’ s key target is to boost the competitiveness and economic growth in the countries’ border areas, effectively promote agricultural and industrial production, create jobs, and narrow income gaps among the countries.
The ACMECS cooperation focused on eight sectors: investment, agriculture, industry-energy, transport, tourism, human resources, healthcare, and environment.
“After 13 years of operation, the CLMV and ACMECS cooperation has contributed to strengthening a peaceful and stable environment in the region, promoting economic, trade and investment ties among member countries and narrowing development gap in the Asean,” the deputy PM said.
Thanks to extensive economic reforms and efforts in liberalising and facilitating trade and investment, the Mekong has become a dynamic development region and driving force for Asean growth.
The highlight of the CLMV and ACMECS cooperation is to aim for specific results with outstanding projects and programmes being many new roads in the East-West Economic Corridor and the South Economic Belt, and many bilateral and multilateral agreements on transport, customs and immigration procedures, and scholarships.
The CLMV and ACMECS are also important mechanisms for Mekong countries to co-ordinate efforts to cement trust and hold dialogues to seek solutions to common challenges like water resources, climate change and diseases based on the harmony of interests of all sides.
The ACMECS-7 and the CLMV-8, which have the theme of “Towards a dynamic and prosperous Mekong sub-region: Seizing opportunities, shaping the future”, will provide an occasion for leaders to review the implementation of approved action plans and reach consensus on cooperation measures to improve the competitiveness of economies, promote regional integration and respond to common challenges, for the Mekong sub-region’s peace and prosperity. At Vietnam initiative will result in the World Economic Forum on Mekong region will be organised for the first time alongside the CLMV-8 and ACMECS-7 to promote the region’s potential to the international business community.