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It was announced by the heads of delegation of the GMS at the 9th Economic Corridors Forum themed “Deeping and Widening Benefits of the Economic Corridors through Inter-Sectoral Synergies” held on this morning in Hanoi.
According to Souphanh Keomixay, Minister of Planning and Investment of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, transport is an important sector promoting the economic development of GMS member states, however, at present, the transport system has yet to be completed to ensure the smoothness of transporting people, vehicles, and goods.
Besides, numerous transport infrastructures have yet to meet quality standards. Thus, member countries need to join hands to complete the transport system.
Roads are currently the most common transport infrastructure connecting member countries, with numerous completed roads along economic corridors, namely the north-south economic corridor, the east-west economic corridor, and the south economic corridor.
On the south corridor, Vietnam and Cambodia have implemented bilateral transport treaties signed in 2009. Besides, Cambodia and Thailand have exchanged transport rights between Phnom Penh and Bangkok in 2013.
However, according to Pratish Halady, senior public-private partnership specialist of Asian Development Bank (ADB), developing the road system is not enough to ensure smooth transportation. Thus, member countries need to increase railway connectivity and consider it as equally important infrastructure.
Regarding railway connectivity, in December 2013, the transport ministers of GMS countries, including Cambodia, China, Laos, and Myanmar, signed a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of the Great Mekong Railway Association (GMRA) in Vientiane.
GMRA aims to increase railway connectivity in order to promote the efficient, safe, and environmentally sustainable rail transport of goods and people in the GMS.
Back to the forum, in the framework of the event, delegates discussed other important sectors contributing to the economic development of member countries.
Issues like the promotion of environmentally sustainable regional power trade planning, mobilising private sector investment into GMS infrastructure, and maximising the benefits of regional e-commerce, among others, were on the agenda.
The 9th Economic Corridors Forum was held back-to-back with the 22nd GMS Ministerial Conference (MC-22). These events coincide with the 25th Anniversary of the Greater Mekong Sub-Region Economic Co-Operation Programme, leading up to the 6th GMS Summit of Leaders in March 2018 in Hanoi.
These meetings will bring together ministers and senior officials from the six GMS countries (Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam), the GMS Business Council, and development partners.