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Mekong Countries Forge Landmark Transport Agreement

News Release | 20 March 2007

BEIJING - The countries of the Mekong region took a major step forward today in linking their nations through improved transportation and border facilities.

The Cross Border Transport Agreement streamlines the regulations and procedures for crossing between borders in the Greater Mekong Subregion, which includes Cambodia, People's Republic of China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

"Improving transport infrastructure and lowering trade barriers is crucial to growing the economies of the Mekong subregion and lessening poverty," said Arjun Thapan, Director General of ADB's Southeast Asia Department. "This agreement is a crucial instrument for advancing trade, investment, tourism, and access to vital services in the subregion."

The countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion completed and signed in Beijing here today the last four of twenty annexes and protocols that will govern this key transport initiative, which has been supported by ADB.

The agreement is designed to ease cross-border transport of goods and people in the Mekong subregion by removing or reducing non-physical barriers. This is done through measures such as single-stop customs inspections, visa assistance for those involved in cross-border trade, and facilities for allowing vehicles to pass across borders with reduced inspections.

The Cross Border Transport Agreement has been in operation since June 2005 at the border between Lao Bao in Viet Nam and Dansavanh in Lao PDR. Six other border-crossing points in the Greater Mekong Subregion are expected to be included within the year.

The heads of the respective national transportation committees in the Mekong Region met in Beijing today to sign the agreement's remaining provisions, review its progress and make future plans.