The Greater Mekong Subregion at 20: Progress and Prospects

Publication | December 2012

The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) includes Cambodia, the People's Republic of China (specifically Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region), the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. In 1992, with assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and building on their shared histories and cultures, the six countries launched a program of subregional economic cooperation - the GMS Program.

Over the past 20 years, the GMS Program has achieved substantial success in improving regional connectivity through investments of $15 billion as well as more than 180 technical assistance projects. With support of ADB and other development partners, the program is helping the participating countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals and balanced growth through increased connectivity, improved competitiveness, and a greater sense of community.

Taking into account the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the GMS and the 20 years of achievements of the GMS Program, leaders of the GMS countries adopted a new strategic framework at the Fourth GMS Summit in 2011 to guide the program over the coming decade. The framework and the future program will focus on a broad range of sector and multisector issues as follows:

  • developing the major GMS corridors as economic corridors, including through corridor alignment, widening, and deepening. This will require strategic urban and rural investments aimed at developing growth poles along the corridors and increasing domestic connectivity of the corridors with rural areas and trade centers, including ports;
  • strengthening transport linkages, particularly roads and railways, to help ensure that the GMS is better positioned to take advantage of the major structural changes taking place within Asia;
  • developing an integrated approach to deliver sustainable, secure, and competitive energy;
  • improving telecommunication linkages and information and communication technology applications among the GMS countries;
  • developing and promoting sustainable tourism in the Mekong as a single destination;
  • promoting competitive, climate-friendly, and sustainable agriculture;
  • enhancing environmental performance in the GMS, including a strong focus on addressing issues of climate change; and
  • supporting human resource development initiatives that facilitate the process of GMS integration, address some of the negative consequences of greater integration, and enhance development management and research capacities.


  • The GMS - More Prosperous and More Integrated
  • The GMS Program: 20 Years of Achievements
  • Prospects for the GMS
  • A New Framework for the GMS