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Mekong summit pushes investment plan

Mar 31. 2018
Prime Minister Prayut Cha-o-cha and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc hug during abilateral meeting on the sideline of Greater Mekong Sub-region summit in Hanoi yesterday.
Prime Minister Prayut Cha-o-cha and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc hug during abilateral meeting on the sideline of Greater Mekong Sub-region summit in Hanoi yesterday.
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By The Nation

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Leaders of six countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) will today continue their efforts to strengthen connectivity, competitiveness and community in the river basin at the sixth summit in Hanoi after 25 years of cooperation.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha joined the summit with colleagues from China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam to endorse the Hanoi Action Plan 2018-22, which will shape the focus of the sub-regional scheme.

Established in 1992, the Asian Development Bank-sponsored scheme has focused on building infrastructure for economic development in the Mekong basin. At the time it was founded, most members were emerging from wars.

Infrastructure projects have been improved and rebuilt over the past quarter of a century, including many new airports, 80 bridges, 10,000 kilometres of roads, 500 kilometres of railways, 3,000 kilometres of power transmission lines along with the generation of 1,570MW of electricity, according to a draft of the joint summit declaration to be issued after the meeting today.

The Hanoi summit yesterday and today also adopted the Regional Investment Framework 2022 to identify a pipeline of 227 projects with an indicated cost of $66 billion (Bt2.58 trillion), said the declaration draft seen by The Nation.

The leaders also praised the progress in expanding economic corridors and the ratification by all six members of the GMS Cross Border Transport Facilitation Agreement, its annexes and protocols.

However, there are many overlapping cooperation and development schemes in the Mekong basin. 

The GMS leaders, who sat together in different forums many times this past year, said they recognised the roles played by all regional cooperation schemes, including the newly initiated China-dominated Lancang Mekong Cooperation forum, which held its summit in Phnom Penh in January. Other bodies include the six-decade old Mekong River Commission which will next month hold is latest summit in Siem Reap, and the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy whose June summit would be hosted by Thailand.

“These provide additional impetus for our own efforts for GMS development to build a sustainable, integrated and prosperous sub-region,” the leaders said in the statement. 

Prior to the GMS summit yesterday, Prayut met separately with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Laos premier Thongloun Sisoulith to discuss bilateral ties with Thailand’s respective neighbours.

Prayut discussed the registration process for migrant workers with Thongloun as there are millions of Lao workers in Thailand and the current large-scale documentation process is to end today.

With Prime Minister Phuc of Vietnam, Prayut witnessed the ceremony handing over an investment licence granted by the Vietnamese authority to a Thai investor for AMATA City Halong. 

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