August 4, 2011

GMS ministers meet in Cambodia to finalize 3rd decade economic co-op roadmap


PHNOM PENH, Aug. 4 -- The Ministers of the six Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) countries gathered here on Thursday to finalize the new GMS Strategic Framework for 2012-2022 ahead of submitting it to their leaders for endorsement in December this year.

The 3rd decade GMS strategic framework would continue its focus on physical infrastructure investments, and also widen and deepen economic corridor development activities, effective trade and transport facilitation, human resource development, protection of shared environmental resources and solicit involvement among the private sector and development partners to address the issues and requirements of the GMS program, Cambodian Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh said at the opening session of the 17th GMS Ministerial Conference.

"The strategy would guide us in the next decade of economic cooperation among the GMS countries," he said.

The GMS program established in 1992 with the support of Asian Development Bank, it has nine priority sectors of cooperation: agriculture, energy, environment, human resource development, investment, telecommunications, tourism, transport infrastructure, and transport and trade facilitation.

"In the last two decades of cooperation, we have achieved a great success, but much work remains to be done in the new decade to ensure that we are advancing the GMS economic cooperation program towards its full potential," he said.

Speaking during the opening ceremony, Zhang Shaochun, Vice- Minister of the China's Finance Ministry, said in the past two decades, the GMS cooperation was constantly making headways and harvests, contributing greatly to poverty reduction and economic and social development in the sub-region.

"The new GMS Strategic Framework will be a sound guidance for future GMS cooperation," he said. "We feel confident about the next ten-year of GMS cooperation."

Zhang said that as a GMS member, China has been exploring various ways to actively support the sub-regional cooperation.

In 2005, China donated 20 million U.S. dollars to set up the China's Fund for poverty reduction and regional cooperation in the Asian Development Bank, he said, adding in six years, the Fund has provided grants to 47 projects in 45 countries, among which about 8.67 million U.S. dollars was used in GMS countries.

He added that in May this year, the government of China announced to replenish the Fund by another 20 million U.S. dollars.

"The government of China is willing to contribute more to GMS cooperation within policy of building friendship and partnership with neighboring countries, strengthen cooperation with all members and join the concerted efforts to realize development and prosperity in the sub-region," said Zhang.

The GMS groups China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

During the opening session of the 17th GMS Ministerial Conference, there were also addresses by U Tin Naing Thein, Minister of Commerce of Myanmar, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Deputy Secretary-General of Thailand's National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), Vo Hong Phuc, Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Investment, and Yaseng Lao, Lao Ambassador to Cambodia.

The ministers of the six GMS countries expect to finalize the new strategic framework and will submit to their leaders for endorsement at the 4th GMS summit in Myanmar in December 2011.

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