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.

Related

‘Early Harvest’ Implementation of the Cross-Border Transport Facilitation Agreement

Joint Committee for the CBTA

Statement of the Seventh Meeting of the Joint Committee for the CBTA (13 March 2019)

Focal Persons at the Asian Development Bank

Trade Facilitation

  • Kanya Sasradipoera and Taro Sekiguchi
    Public Management, Financial Sector, & Trade Division,
    Southeast Asia Department
  • Dorothea Lazaro
    Public Management, Financial Sector, & Regional Coop Division,
    East Asia Department

Transport Facilitation

    Other Concerned Staff & Consultants

    • Antonio Ressano
      Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division,
      Southeast Asia Department
    • Alma Canarejo
      Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division,
      Southeast Asia Department/GMS Secretariat

    Send inquiries to GMS Secretariat.

    Viet Nam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc holds talks with his Lao PDR Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith. Photo by VGP via Nhandan.

    Lao PDR Prime Minister, Viet Nam Prime Minister Discuss Reopening Border Gates

    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.  

    GMS in the News

    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). 

    GMS in the News

    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. 

    GMS in the News

    The 8th Mekong–RoK Business Forum was held in-person in Hanoi, Viet Nam, and online. Photo by TTXVN via Viet Nam Plus.

    Mekong–Republic of Korea Business Forum Facilitates Trade Partnership

    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. 

    GMS in the News

    The 12th Mekong-Japan Summit took place virtually on 13 November as part of the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits. Photo by VNA via VNExplorer.

    12th Mekong-Japan Summit Highlights How Cooperation Enhances Connectivity in the Subregion

    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.

    GMS in the News

    The second Mekong-RoK Summit was held online on 13 November. Photo by VNA via Viet Nam Plus.

    Mekong Countries, Republic of Korea Upgrade Relations to Strategic Partnership

    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.  

    GMS in the News

    ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Meeting Highlights ADB’s Efforts in Establishing the ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility

    The 6th ASEAN Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting held virtually on 2 October acknowledged ADB’s efforts in operationalizing the ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility (ACGF) as a platform for ASEAN green infrastructure under the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund (AIF).

    GMS in the News

    Mekong Countries, Republic of Korea Convene 10th Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

    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.

    GMS in the News

    The Bago-Kyaikto expressway will link to the Yangon-Mandalay highway (in picture). Photo by ALwinDigital (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

    $484 Million ADB Loan to Fund New GMS Expressway in Myanmar

    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.

    GMS in the News