Senior officials of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) met to discuss responses to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the GMS, focusing on regional approaches to promote recovery and resilience. The meeting was held via videoconferencing on 2 June 2020, with participation from all GMS countries and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
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.
Trade promotion authorities from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Viet Nam organized a virtual conference for agro-food exporters from Viet Nam and enterprises from Yunnan, PRC, in a bid to boost Viet Nam’s agricultural and food exports. Around 23 Vietnamese agriculture, food, and beverage enterprises participated in the event to promote products suitable to the market in Yunnan province and the broader PRC.
The conference also provided an opportunity to discuss measures to boost Viet Nam’s agricultural and food exports, and maintain trade linkages.
While tightened control by Viet Nam and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in response to the COVID-19 epidemic may have slowed down customs procedures and trade, the two countries continue to work on easing import/export at the border through cooperation and discussions.
Cambodia and Viet Nam will continue to work together to ensure bilateral trade continues amidst border control measures implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the two countries have enforced stricter travel restrictions to tourists passing through their borders, Cambodia and Viet Nam remain open to the exchange of goods.
In a blog post, Mr. Arjun Goswami of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) emphasizes the importance of regional cooperation to more effectively address the transnational threat and mutual risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Steven Beck of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) wrote in a blog post that “the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the need to support trade to not only move medical supplies but also to bolster economies.” His post asked (i) how we can maintain trade flows at a time when everyone’s attention seems to be focused on tightening borders, and (ii) how we can keep goods moving when the financial systems that companies rely on are under stress.
A press release from the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Ministry of Economy and Finance announced plans to improve facilities at border gates with Thailand and Viet Nam.
Cambodia’s border crossing points with Thailand and Vietnam are crowded with traffic of cross-border transport and tourists. The country wants to develop the necessary infrastructure to manage this traffic flow to ease cross-border transport and boost trade activities.
The Economic and Financial Policy Committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Aun Pornmoniroth, approved the proposal.
The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) and Myanmar will explore opportunities to enhance tourism cooperation through bilateral and multilateral frameworks. This was agreed by the two countries at the 12th Meeting of Myanmar-Laos Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation held in Vientiane, Lao PDR on 6 March 2020.
Lao PDR and Myanmar aim to create a new cooperation master plan. Tourism could help promote each other’s rich culture and heritage and bring their people together.