March 10, 2011

Cambodia holds conference on GMS development


Cambodia hosted a two-day symposium on the development of the Southern Economic Corridor ( SEC) here Wednesday to attract investment and promote sustainable growth along the SEC of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS).

The symposium was attended by some 200 participants, who are provincial governors, private stakeholders, experts, and development partners from 43 provinces along the SEC in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, according to the media release from Asian Development Bank on Wednesday.

The SEC is one of the three priority economic corridors under the GMS Economic Cooperation Program. The other two are the East- West Economic Corridor (EWEC) and the North-South Economic Corridor (NSEC).

Thomas Crouch, deputy director general of the ADB to Southeast Asian Department, said during the opening ceremony that there are still many gaps in transport links in the SEC compared to the EWEC and NSEC.

These gaps involve not only road links that require substantial improvement, but also transport interconnecting roads, ports, railways and airports, he said.

Cham Prasidh, Cambodian minister of commerce, said the SEC has the essential drivers of growth, including established markets, agricultural and industrial base and world class tourism assets; however, the development of the SEC will not happen overnight or automatically.

"In this sense, it will be important to establish a monitoring system -- a scorecard so to speak -- which can tell us to what extent we are achieving our goals in developing the SEC," he said.

Arjun Goswami, director of ADB Southeast Asia Department's Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division, said that the development of SEC is very important to boost cross- border trades among the SEC countries and GMS countries.

"In this regard, in the framework of GMS, China can be a big market for the SEC's countries' agro-based and agricultural products as well as other manufacturing products," he said. " Moreover, the development of SEC will enable China to access to the Southeast Asian nations easier."

GMS comprises Cambodia, China, (specifically Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region), Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

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