Mekong Leaders Map Expansion of Economic Corridors

MANDALAY, MYANMAR – Ministers and senior government officials from the six Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries met today to discuss ways of expanding economic corridors to better facilitate the movement of people and products around the subregion.

“There is now a need to fine tune economic corridor development, which is seen as a means of integrating centers of production and demand, and contributing to inclusive growth at both country and subregional level,” said Stephen Groff, ADB’s Vice President for East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

The Economic Corridors Forum (ECF) has been looking into the challenges constraining GMS corridor development, which include inadequate infrastructure, a lack of logistics such as freight forwarding or warehousing, and burdensome border crossing procedures.

These challenges could be addressed through a number of measures, including better linking of investments in physical infrastructure with associated institutional support and services. For example, building new border roads while at the same time establishing licensesor permits to ease passage, or packaging rural road development with investments in agricultural improvements to boost a village's ability to make the most of newly-accessible markets.

The priority areas for investment include urban development, connections to maritime gateways, improved transport and trade facilitation, and other interventions to enhance competitiveness of corridors. ADB is currently funding technical assistance to help establish a regional investment framework that would develop the portfolio of next generation GMS projects.

The ECF agreed that innovations to its organizational structure will be needed to effectively manage an increasingly complex multisector program. It noted that widening the scope of GMS corridors must be done in line with national objectives, evolving trade flows, and regional benefits.