Mekong Development Forum in Singapore to Explore $15 Billion in Potential Investments

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Representatives of more than 80 companies will gather in Singapore next week for a forum that will explore the vast investment opportunities for Singapore companies offered by the Mekong subregion.

The main focus of the Mekong Development Forum, jointly organized by ADB and International Enterprise Singapore on 7-8 March, will be public-private partnerships in infrastructure development in the Mekong.

The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) - made up of Cambodia, People's Republic of China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam - is home to 310 million people and has about the land area of Western Europe.

This dynamic subregion is one of the world's fastest growing areas, with GDP growth over the last decade averaging 6%. To support this remarkable economic expansion, the six Mekong countries need an estimated $10 billion-$15 billion in infrastructure investments in the coming years.

"The vast development potential of the GMS makes it an attractive trading partner, investment location and tourist destination," says ADB Vice-President Liqun Jin. "These opportunities cannot be overlooked by Singapore's rapidly globalizing companies."

Open to the media will be discussions on key topics in the GMS, including:

  • A Resurgent Mekong: Current Status, Future Directions and the Role of the Private Sector in Development
  • The Economic Corridors: Towards A Single GMS Market
  • Financing Investments in the GMS: Opportunities and Risks
  • Connecting the GMS: The Vital Role of Infrastructure Development

The media will also will also hear presentations and have opportunities to meet with key ADB officials, including Mr. Jin, a former Minister of Finance for the People's Republic of China who has authored several books on economics and finance. Robert Bestani, Director General of ADB's Private Sector Department, will discuss innovative public private partnerships available in the subregion.

Officials from the Mekong government will also be represented, including Minister of Commerce for Cambodia, Cham Prasidh, who will discuss the successes the Greater Mekong Subregion has enjoyed since its launch in 1992, and its strategies for the future.

"Government budgets and official development sources alone will not be enough to meet the infrastructure requirements for the subregion," says Mr. Bestani. "Greater involvement of the private sector, in Singapore and worldwide, is crucial. ADB is well-positioned to facilitate this involvement."

Singapore is seen as a key investment partner for the subregion because it is recognized worldwide as a global business city strategically located in Southeast Asia with easy access to the rest of the region. The unique combination of strategic location, stable government, competitive workforce, forward-looking economic policies, and a pro-business environment has resulted in Singapore being consistently ranked as one of the best places in the world for business.

Singapore's international trade connections, financial expertise, worldwide sea and air links, modern port and airport facilities, sophisticated telecommunications network, and comprehensive land transport system are just some of the factors that have contributed to the country's success. Some 6,000 foreign multi-national companies and about 10,000 foreign small-media enterprises make use of Singapore as base and headquarters for their regional operations.

GMS is Asia's most rapidly integrating subregion. Transport networks and economic corridors along the subregion's east-west and north-south axes are transforming GMS into a more integrated and competitive economic grouping.

The subregion is expected to be fully interconnected by 2012 not only through the transport links being developed under the GMS program, but also through the adoption of standardized arrangements on the movement of goods and people across borders.

Studies conducted by ADB and the World Bank have shown that infrastructure development is fundamental to supporting the processes of growth and to help the poor access basic services, which can improve their lives and income opportunities. At its best, infrastructure can draw poverty reduction, service provision, and growth together in a reinforcing cycle.