The transport sector is critical to economic cooperation among the countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). Soon after its inception in 1992, the GMS Economic Cooperation Program developed a GMS Transport Master Plan (1995) to encourage commercial exchange among the countries to spur development, generate employment opportunities, and assist GMS countries’ programs to reduce poverty. The Transport Master Plan served well to develop the economic corridors that are the foundation of the GMS Program.
Now, in 2007, the Plan’s recommendations have been largely carried out. Changes in policies, economic development, and technological advances, together with sustained population and economic growth have increased the demand for transport services and these services themselves have become more complex.
GMS leaders, during their Summits in Phnom Penh in November 2002 and in Kunming in July 2005, highlighted the key economic development role of a well-built, seamless, multimodal cross-border infrastructure that connects the GMS. They emphasized that strong transport systems and logistics are needed to deepen GMS cooperation, particularly in marketing the subregion as a single tourism destination and as both a market and a location for regional networks of consumption and production. Improved transportation networks to link the GMS with other countries and regions are also needed.
In October 2004, the Asian Development Bank provided technical assistance for a study to develop a GMS transport sector strategy, a successor to the 1995 Plan, that takes into account present and projected transport needs to 2015. The resulting strategy, which has been approved by the GMS countries, is presented here in summary.
Successful implementation of the strategy over the coming years will result in a truly seamless GMS transport network, connecting not only the GMS countries but also neighbor- ing countries and regions for the benefit of all.