Republic of Korea, GMS Countries Target Priority Areas for Joint Development Work

SEOUL, REPUBLIC OF KOREA - The Republic of Korea has agreed to work closely with the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) to tackle priority GMS development issues, including transport, trade and the environment, a high level forum heard here.

The two-day Mekong Development Forum, co-organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance, brought together ministers and senior officials from the six GMS countries, along with officials from the Republic of Korea, for discussions on business and partnership opportunities in the region. The GMS comprises Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam.

With the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with ADB in 2008, the Republic of Korea has become a prominent cofinancier in a variety of development projects in the subregion. Companies from the Republic of Korea have also shown increasing interest in the GMS in recent years. The forum agreed on key areas that require further support, including transforming transport corridors into fully fledged economic corridors, strengthening environmental management, and increasing the use of clean energy in the face of growing threats from climate change.

“We are eager to continue working with the Republic of Korea, and to take our partnership to the next level in addressing the challenges facing the GMS countries in the coming decade,” said C. Lawrence Greenwood, Jr., ADB’s Vice-President for Operations.

The forum also agreed that further work is needed to improve information and communication technology in the GMS to support rural development and poverty reduction efforts. The priority areas identified at the talks are in line with those endorsed at the recently concluded GMS Ministerial Meeting in Viet Nam on 20 August 2010.

Since 1992, GMS countries have participated in a comprehensive program of economic cooperation covering transport, energy, telecommunications, human resource development, environment and natural resources management, trade facilitation, private investment, tourism, and agriculture with the support of ADB and other development partners.