Saturday, 20 June 2009

Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam forge economic pact

Friday 19th June, 2009

Ministers from the six Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) nations have endorsed a comprehensive plan of action to expand and strengthen cooperation in key areas, including energy and human resource development.

In a joint statement delivered at the 15th GMS Ministerial Conference in Petchburi province, Thailand, the ministers, from Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, noted that despite current economic turmoil the six countries are making significant progress on a wide range of initiatives to advance economic development in the sub-region.

In the energy sector, the ministers endorsed a road map for the expansion of the existing cross-border energy trade, and for broader integration in the power sector, beyond electricity. The plan seeks to extend modern energy access to all GMS communities, not just through rural electrification schemes and off-grid power systems, but by enhancing cross-border energy integration, allowing countries to tap the sub-region’s diverse energy resource base that includes hydro, oil, gas and coal.

A more integrated energy system will help lower investment costs, reduce external dependence, improve energy security, diversify supply, and lower carbon emissions. The road map calls for supply side actions such as promoting energy efficiency and accelerating the development of renewable, environmentally friendly energy sources.

The ministers also endorsed a new human resources development plan that includes measures to promote safer labor migration; to strengthen communicable disease control; to bolster education and skills development across the subregion, and to combat human trafficking.

"The agreement to accelerate action on cross-border power trade and the development of renewable energy resources will boost energy security, through improved efficiency of energy use, while contributing to reduced greenhouse emissions in a subregion which is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change," said ADB Vice President C. Lawrence Greenwood.

Mr. Greenwood congratulated the ministers for the progress made to date in controlling the spread of communicable diseases, and for strengthening the capabilities of the subregion to respond to the threat of disease outbreaks. He noted that improvements have been made against a backdrop of increased physical connectivity in the world, and the emergence of new global health threats.

Mr. Greenwood also noted that ADB would continue its support for improving the capacity of mid and senior-level civil service officials, and for strengthening subregional research institutions, both of which are critical to the GMS development agenda.

Over the next three years, GMS ministers said they will aim to implement the GMS cross-border transport agreement and other transport and trade initiatives, turn transport corridors into full-fledged economic zones, and target environmental improvements.

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