The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and its partners will collectively zero in on strategies and policy responses that countries can adopt to lay the groundwork for post-COVID-19 recovery at the upcoming Southeast Asia Development Symposium (SEADS) Innovation through Collaboration: Planning for Inclusive Post-COVID-19 Recovery.
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.
The Ministry of Transport (MOT) of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) jointly organized the 24th Meeting of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Subregional Transport Forum (STF-24) virtually held on 21 January 2021. The theme of STF-24 was “Forging Greater Transport Connectivity Toward the Visions of GMS 2030”.
The region’s success with decades of growth and poverty reduction is due in large part to the international movement of trade, capital, people, knowledge, and resources – not only within the region but with the rest of the world. This type of regional cooperation is also a powerful tool in addressing the pandemic.
Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam (CLV) Leaders expressed their firm commitment to strengthen the CLV Development Triangle Area (DTA) in order to accelerate economic growth, alleviate poverty, and promote socio-cultural progress in the subregion. At the 11th CLV Summit held online on 9 December, they adopted a Joint Declaration that provides a foundation for the subregion’s socio-economic development plan until 2030 and the Tourism Development Plan. They also adopted the Development Plan for Sustainable Rubber Industry.
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.
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 Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam (CLMV) Summit, held on 9 December, emphasized enhancing effective connectivity for regional integration.
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.
The 8th Mekong–Republic of Korea (RoK) Business Forum acknowledged how the RoK and the Mekong countries sustained their trade to 2019 levels amid the pandemic by upholding their trade relations. The Forum was held on 4 December in-person in Hanoi, Viet Nam, and online.
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.