The Thai-Lao Friendship bridge built with Australian funding, crossing the Mekong River. Photo by Australia DFAT (CC BY 2.0) .

Construction of the Fifth Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge Begins

The fifth Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River is being constructed, following the signing of the construction agreement in December 2020. It will connect Bolikhamxay province in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) and Bueng Kan in Thailand. The project is set to transform Bolikhamxay into a regional trade hub and transit route for Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam. It could potentially increase the subregion's tourism and attract more trade and investment for Lao PDR. 

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Prime Ministers of Lao PDR and Thailand Discuss Cooperation on Health and Energy

Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O-Cha discussed bolstering friendly neighborhood ties, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation, and energy trade in a phone call. The two leaders underscored how enhancing bilateral relations would benefit the two countries, and contribute to peace, stability, and cooperation for development in the region. They also agreed that closer cooperation will help them deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and boost trade and investment to help restore their economies. The call also dis

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Border check point on the Lao PDR side of the Mekong River. Laos and Thailand are now linked by “Friendship Bridge II” completed in 2007. Photo by ADB.

Sixth Thai-Lao PDR Friendship Bridge to Open in 2025

Thailand’s Ministry of Transport is scheduled to complete the 6th Thai-Lao friendship bridge by 2025, according to Mr. Saksayam Chidchob, Thailand Minister of Transport.  This new bridge promises to further enhance border trade and promote tourism between Thailand and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR). 

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Photo: Rajesh_India/ Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Travel Bubbles Proposed to Kickstart Tourism in the Region

‘Travel bubbles’ are being considered by Southeast Asian countries, including Myanmar and Thailand, as a means to safely resume travel activities. Members of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group recommended creating travel bubbles to kickstart regional tourism in the absence of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in their meeting in May.

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Cambodia Approves Two 500 kV Transmission Line Projects

The Government of Cambodia’s Council of Ministers approved two 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission line investment projects in (i) Phnom Penh to the Cambodia-Lao PDR border, and (ii) Battambang to the Cambodia-Thailand border, to prepare to import electricity from its neighbors. The Government of Cambodia is working on increasing the country’s electricity capacity to improve production and competitiveness.

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Bagan, Myanmar. Photo: Piktour UK via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Myanmar Releases Strategic Roadmap for Tourism Recovery

The Government of Myanmar released a Strategic Roadmap for Tourism Recovery that aims to establish ‘new normal’ conditions to help tourism make  a comeback.  

Mr. Ohn Maung, Union Minister of Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, provided guidelines for implementation of the plan. It includes three phases:  

Survival 

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The 9th ACMECS Summit Declaration emphasized post-pandemic socio-economic recovery and preparation for future crises. Photo by OCM.

9th ACMECS Summit Declaration Focuses on Post-pandemic Recovery

Leaders of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam adopted the Phnom Penh declaration at the 9th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Summit held on 9 December. The declaration emphasizes post-pandemic socio-economic recovery and preparation for future crises and challenges through public health cooperation and enhanced supply chains. ACMECS leaders stressed the importance of vaccine multilateralism to ensure equitable and safe access to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines. 

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Mekong River Commission Joint Committee Endorses Basin Development Strategy

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) Joint Committee endorsed ad-referendum the 10-year Basin Development Strategy. The Strategy aims to guide Mekong River Basin stakeholders in addressing environmental, social, and economic issues arising from climate change, water resource development projects, and population increase. Its endorsement paves the way for a final consideration and approval by the MRC’s council of ministers. 

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LocalFarm enables farmers and gardeners who had relied on tourism for their incomes to market seasonal fruits, vegetables, salads, and processed fruits directly to consumers. Photo courtesy of TakeMeTour via ADB.

ADB Ventures Backs LocalFarm to Help Thai Tourism Endure Downturn

The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) impact investment platform, ADB Ventures, has teamed with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to support technology startup TakeMeTour to develop the LocalFarm online platform and help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on Thailand’s tourism sector.

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Areenee Jasiti is a store assistant manager in Thailand where convenience stores have remained open, despite COVID-19. Convenience stores are one of Thailand's lifelines. Photo: UN Women/Ploy Phutpheng (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

$1.5 Billion ADB Loan to Support Thailand's COVID-19 Response

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a $1.5 billion loan to support the Government of Thailand’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

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