Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR) Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and Viet Nam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc held a phone conversation to discuss bilateral ties and regional cooperation. Noting that Lao PDR and Viet Nam have managed the COVID-19 pandemic well, they highlighted the need to further facilitate cargo and passenger movement between their countries, and to soon reach consensus on plans to reopen mainland border gates and resume commercial flights.
Transport and Trade Facilitation
Countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion are working to make the movement of goods and services across borders faster, easier, cheaper, more compliant, and more inclusive.
Over the past decade, the Greater Mekong Subregion’s (GMS) road network has expanded by almost 200,000 kilometers, and overland road freight has almost doubled. Yet despite these advances, remaining barriers to trade and transport continue to inhibit the subregion’s full economic potential and the cost of cross-border land transport remains high.
With much of the hard infrastructure in place, there has been a greater focus in recent years on the rules, regulations, agreements, and other “software” to make the movement of goods and services across borders in the GMS faster, easier, cheaper, more compliant, and more inclusive.
The GMS Transport and Trade Facilitation Action Program is working to overcome existing barriers in order to link the subregion to the ASEAN Economic Community’s single market and production base, as well as other regional cooperation initiatives.
The program is helping to expand transport and traffic rights along the GMS Cross Border Transport Facilitation Agreement (CBTA). route network; simplify and modernize customs procedures and border management; and strengthen the capacity of sanitary and phytosanitary agencies in the subregion.
To facilitate progressive implementation of the CBTA, the GMS Transport Ministers as members of the CBTA Joint Committee have agreed to an “Early Harvest” memorandum of understanding to allow the issuance and mutual recognition of GMS Road Transport Permits along the CBTA Protocol 1 route network and the border crossing points along these routes starting August 2018.
• Statement of the Seventh Meeting of the Joint Committee for the CBTA (13 March 2019)
Focal Persons at the Asian Development Bank
- Cristina Lozano-Astray
Public Management, Financial Sector, & Trade Division,
Southeast Asia Department
- Stephani Kamal
Public Management, Financial Sector, & Regional Coop Division,
East Asia Department
Other Concerned Staff & Consultants
- Rhodora Concepcion
Thailand Resident Mission,
Southeast Asia Department
- Alma Canarejo
Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division,
Southeast Asia Department/GMS Secretariat
Send inquiries to GMS Secretariat.
Japan and Mekong countries convened the 12th Mekong-Japan Summit on 13 November, cochaired by Japan Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide and Viet Nam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. The meeting underscored Japan’s strong commitment to the Mekong subregion and reviewed progress of cooperation between Japan and Mekong countries (Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic [PDR], Thailand, Myanmar, and Viet Nam) as guided by the "Tokyo Strategy 2018." The Strategy seeks to strengthen connectivity, improve human resource development, and enhance environmental protection.
Countries of the Mekong subregion and the Republic of Korea (RoK) agreed to raise bilateral relations to a "Strategic Partnership for People, Prosperity, and Peace" at the second Mekong-RoK Summit held on 13 November 2020, which was chaired by RoK President Moon Jae-in and Viet Nam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The meeting noted the reinforced cooperation in public health amid the pandemic, and hailed recovery of trading volumes between the RoK and the Mekong subregion to 2019 level.
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).
The 10th Mekong-Republic of Korea (RoK) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held on 28 September online, with the participation of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the RoK. The meeting highlighted achievements in cooperation on infrastructure, information technology, education, agriculture, environmental protection, and water resources management, and adopted the action plan for 2021-2025.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $483.8 million loan to build a 64-kilometer (km) expressway connecting the capital of Bago region and the township of Kyaikto in Mon state in Myanmar and support economic development along the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) East–West Economic Corridor.
A GMS Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) was held on 11 September 2020 via web-based conferencing to review (i) proposed key GMS strategic planning documents and knowledge products, which includes GMS COVID-19 response initiatives and the new long-term strategy for the GMS program, and (ii) preparations for upcoming GMS events—the 11th Economic Corridors Forum (ECF-11), the 24th GMS Ministerial Conference (MC-24), and the 7th GMS Summit (Summit-7).
Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), Myanmar, and Viet Nam (CLMV) economic ministers endorsed the CLMV Action Plan 2021-2022 focusing on (i) trade and investment cooperation, (ii) implementation of regional commitments, (iii) pandemic recovery plan, (iv) Framework for CLMV Development, and (v) human resource development.
The Myanmar Government unveiled plans to develop a bigger and better connected special economic zone (SEZ) located in Mon State at a virtual Myanmar-Japan Investment Dialogue held on 29 July 2020. The strategically located SEZ will connect both the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean, and the Thilawa SEZ in Myanmar to Viet Nam’s Da Nang SEZ via the Greater Mekong Subregion’s East-West Economic Corridor. Plans for the new SEZ also include the construction of deep-sea port facilities.