Mekong Countries to Enhance Trade and Business In GMS Corridors

VIENTIANE, LAO PDR - Initiatives to help the three priority transport links in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) become full-fledged economic corridors will be agreed during the Third Economic Corridors Forum (ECF-3) to be held here on 30 June.

Ministers and senior officials from Cambodia, the People's Republic of China (PRC), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam, together with representatives from the private sector and development partners will discuss how to further develop the North-South Economic Corridor (NSEC), the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC), and the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC).

Drawing on results from earlier symposia, the ECF-3 will agree on specific actions on issues common to the three corridors: impediments and measures to enhance transport and trade facilitation  and logistics development; the remaining lack of operational links along certain routes; lack of border crossing facilities; lack of customs brokerage and banking services; limited operating hours for customs inspections; cumbersome clearance and border procedures; security issues; and the continuing need for transshipment at borders.

Themed “Strengthening Pathways for Sustained Progress in the GMS”, the forum is organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Under the GMS Economic Cooperation Program being assisted by ADB, Mekong countries have agreed to create economic corridors linking various parts of the subregion to major markets with certain places serving as centers for production, trade and enterprise development. These corridors extend the benefits of improved transport links to remote and landlocked locations in the subregion which have been disadvantaged by their lack of integration with more prosperous and better located neighboring areas. Opportunities for investment from within and outside the subregion will be opened, promoting synergy and enhancing the impact of GMS activities.

“Aside from physical infrastructure, investments in software aspects have substantial payback. The areas along the economic corridors will be able to enjoy further benefits from expanded markets having a solid trade facilitation system in place,” said Arjun Goswami, Director, Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

Mr. Goswami added that economic corridors will promote  mutually beneficial cooperation, and sustained and balanced development in the GMS, contributing to the vision of the ASEAN Economic Community.

The ECF was established in Kunming, PRC in June 2008 to serve as the main advocate and promoter of multi-sector coordination in corridor development, by raising awareness of the needs of the priority GMS Corridors, increasing the involvement of local authorities in corridor affairs and  improving public-private collaboration.

Other topics to be discussed during ECF-3 are the relevance of improving competitiveness of major corridor centers and the need to shore up inter-sector links in addressing GMS corridor development issues.

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. In addition, ADB's ongoing Trade Finance Program supported $2.8 billion in trade.