6. Recognizing the need to maintain the momentum in implementing GMS projects, we endorse the new RIF-IP 2020 that emanated from the midterm review of RIF-IP (2014-2018), comprising 107 investment and technical assistance projects, including carryovers from the previous pipeline and new priority projects, and estimated to have a total cost of US $ 32.7 billion.
7. We also recognize the rapidly changing and more complex regional and global environment. We have therefore mandated our Senior Officials to conduct a midterm review of the GMS Strategic Framework (2012-2022) (GMS SF) to ensure the Program’s continued effectiveness and responsiveness. We have also mandated the preparation of a Five-Year Action Plan to cover the remaining term of the GMS SF. The celebration of the GMS Program’s 25th Anniversary next year and the forthcoming 6th GMS Summit provide excellent opportunities for such a stock-taking of how the Program has done so far, and for setting new directions and launching new undertakings that will have an enduring impact on the GMS.
8. We reaffirm the importance of the economic corridor approach as the most efficient and effective way of utilizing and managing limited resources for the development of the subregion. This approach has served us well, enhancing overall GMS connectivity and contributing, for instance, to the more than 15-fold growth in intra-GMS trade in the last 15 years. However, the changing regional economic landscape, characterized by shifting patterns of trade, investment, tourism and other economic flows, and the opening of Myanmar’s economy in recent years, has necessitated a study to review the current configuration of the major GMS economic corridors, which was conducted early this year. We welcome and endorse the important recommendations of the study to extend and expand the GMS economic corridors so they link all GMS capitals, major economic centers, and important GMS maritime gateways. We are also pleased to note that all missing sections of the GMS corridors in Myanmar, as well as important new sections in Lao PDR, are covered by the proposed changes. All efforts toward enhancing overall GMS competitiveness and integration must now be focused on the redefined economic corridors, as this would ensure consistency and complementation of outcomes. We request all GMS sector working groups and forums to consider the possible implications of the reconfiguration of the economic corridors to their on-going activities, including the CBTA.
9. We remain committed to maintain the Economic Corridors Forum (ECF) as a flexible and substantive forum for generating and sharing knowledge to facilitate the development of GMS economic corridors. We note with great satisfaction the very important outcomes of the Eighth ECF held in Phnom Penh on 4 August 2016 to further strengthen connectivity, in both its hardware and software aspects, and initiatives to enhance the competitiveness of the economic corridors by developing border areas and special economic zones, promoting E-commerce, and strengthening logistics systems. We particularly emphasize the need to transform the GMS economic corridors into logistics hubs to support cross-border trade, investment, tourism, and stronger cooperation. We also applauded the successful GMS Governors’ Forum held in Kunming in June 2016, which further emphasized the crucial role of local authorities in the development of the economic corridors.
10. In our efforts to spur the development of the GMS economic corridors, we remain steadfast in our adherence to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which focus on combatting poverty and inequalities, protecting the environment and responding to climate change as committed by the UNFCCC parties in the Paris Climate Agreement, effectively managing land use, and promoting shared prosperity. Future actions for transforming the GMS corridors into strings of dynamic centers of economic activity must also emphasize inclusiveness and sustainability. In this regard, we reaffirm our commitment to pursue the established GMS environmental sustainability programs, anchored on a reinvigorated CEP guided by a new Strategic Framework for 2018-2022. As the GMS has made considerable progress in improving food security for its people, the regional Strategy and Action Plan being developed through CASP2 will strengthen the commitment to food security, market access for small producers, and ensure inclusive food safety for the GMS. Likewise, as the Strategic Framework and Action Plan for Human Resource Development in the GMS draws to a close in 2017, we look forward to a new blueprint for our future cooperation toward the realization of the SDGs in this sector. HRD will continue to be a priority, with continuing efforts toward the development and implementation of capacity-building, formal and vocational training, worker and skills accreditation, and health promotion and disease prevention programs that will help enhance the well-being, opportunities, and mobility of the subregion’s human resources.
11. We note with satisfaction the recommendations of the Study on Strengthening the GMS Institutional Framework. We reaffirm our shared commitment to strengthening the GMS institutional mechanism to make it more responsive to the changing global and regional context. To this end, it is vital for the GMS institutional mechanism to continue to support the GMS activities-based and results-oriented approach. Among the key recommendations of the study, we agree that the ECF can be held back-to-back with the GMS Ministerial Conference, and that member countries’ head of delegation for the ECF could be Minister or his/her appointed representative, as appropriate, in order to have greater synergies between the two meetings, and to more efficiently use and manage time and financial resources to organize these major meetings. 12. We commend the hard work and the critical role of the SOM as the regular and overall coordination mechanism under the GMS Program, encompassing both the policy and operational aspects of GMS cooperation. We therefore agree on the establishment of a regular reporting arrangement for the sector working groups and forums to report to the SOM, and task the GMS Secretariat to prepare a detailed reporting arrangement.
13. We recognize the growing number and intensified activities of regional cooperation and integration initiatives in Asia and its subregions, including the advent of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in December 2015 and the ASEAN 2025 Vision. We also note with appreciation the initiative of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. All of these provide greater opportunities for cooperative action on issues facing the GMS. The GMS Program will tap complementarities and build synergies with ASEAN and with other important regional cooperation and integration initiatives, and hopes to profit greatly from cross-fertilization with them in terms of exchange of experiences and lessons learned, as well as sharing of knowledge and good practices. These can be achieved through, among other means, undertaking of joint projects and activities, cross-participation in conferences, and conduct of seminars and workshops to increase each other’s awareness of their respective objectives and identify areas for collaboration.
14. We also realize that in order to attain sustained results on the ground, broader and more intensive resource mobilization is imperative. Apart from aiming for a deeper engagement of longstanding development partners, we will continue to reach out to new or hitherto untapped development financing institutions. These include new funds established by bilateral and multilateral development partners that are focused particularly on infrastructure development. Also, as the midterm review of the RIF-IP showed that only a few projects have private sector participation, we will intensify the development of innovative financing modalities and partnerships with the private sector, including tapping the full potential of PPPs.
15. Over the last two-and-a half decades, the GMS Program, the pioneering and one of the most fruitful subregional initiatives in Asia, has shown us that cooperation among neighboring countries done in a spirit of goodwill, mutual respect, and common aspirations, can produce tangible results. Along the way, we have discovered effective ways of achieving our goals, and the development of economic corridors is one of the most important of these. We will continue to refine and vigorously pursue this approach, which we believe is the best way toward achieving our overarching goal of inclusive and sustainable development for the subregion.
16. We face a challenging future, but we are confident that as long as we remain committed to cooperate with one another in addressing all of the issues and difficulties thrown our way, we will prevail. We value very much and are thankful for the support of our development partners, and we hope that they will continue to be at our side as we move into the future. In particular, we wish to thank the Asian Development Bank for its continued commitment to the GMS vision, and for never failing to help us toward achieving it.
17. We wish to express our sincere gratitude to the Royal Thai Government for its gracious hosting of the 21st GMS Ministerial Conference.