GMS Countries Gear Up For Second Generation Cooperation

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA - Countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) are poised to move the GMS Economic Cooperation Program into a second generation of initiatives over the next ten years. This next phase, oriented towards the development of GMS economic corridors, includes multisector infrastructure investments related to urban and rural area development, as well as greater focus on the software needed for more effective and efficient use of existing and future infrastructure and for addressing shared social and environmental concerns.

At the conclusion of the 17th GMS Ministerial Conference here today, the GMS Ministers of Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam, supported the new GMS Strategic Framework 2012-2022, which will guide the GMS Program in the next decade. They also explored enhancing implementation of the new Framework by initiating the process of preparing a regional master plan for the GMS. The new Strategic Framework will be considered for endorsement by the GMS Summit in December 2011.

Under the new framework, ADB will assist the GMS countries in their efforts to maximize the impact of limited regional resources by focusing on catalyzing investment in strategic areas. “Our experience in economic corridor development points to the need to further broaden and deepen our interventions, not only in terms of geographical reach but also in terms of moving into second generation of activities,” said Mr. Bindu Lohani, ADB Vice-President-in-Charge (Operations 2). Mr. Lohani added that ADB, which has provided support to the GMS Program for almost two decades, remains committed to assist the GMS countries tap more fully into the opportunities that regional cooperation provides, while supporting their efforts at addressing the challenges associated with increased connectivity, climate change, demographic transition, and urbanization.

In preparation for the 4th GMS Summit, the Ministerial Conference also reviewed key sector deliverables including the next phase of the Core Environment Program (2012-2016), a new agreement for accelerating construction of the Information Superhighway Network, a refocused Tourism Strategy, and progress under the comprehensive Program of Actions on Transport and Trade Facilitation, such as a pilot Corridor Monitoring System and establishment of the GMS Freight Transporters’ Association.

By the end of June 2011, ADB had extended loans/grants totaling almost $5 billion for 55 investment projects totaling about $14 billion, involving subregional roads, airport and railway improvements, and hydropower projects for cross-border power supply, tourism infrastructure development, and communicable disease control.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members -- 48 from the region. In 2010, ADB approvals, including cofinancing, totaled $17.51 billion.