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Int'l forum focuses on Mekong infrastructure

Update: August, 09/2014 - 09:39
The GMS countries formed the forum in 2008 to bolster efforts in transforming GMS transport corridors into economic corridors connecting dynamic hubs of economic activity.

HA NOI  (VNS) — The Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) must ensure that economic corridors yield benefits in terms of trade, investment, and jobs, participants at the sixth GMS Economic Corridors Forum (ECF) heard yesterday.

The forum, co-organised by Viet Nam's Ministry of Planning and Investment, and the Asian Development Bank attracted ministers, vice-ministers, senior officials, development partners, and representatives of the private sector from the six GMS countries.

They reviewed achievements during the last six years and took stock of cross-border transport and trade initiatives in the region.

Vice-president at the Asian Development Bank, Bindu Lohani, said that most of the infrastructure required for enhanced connectivity had been put in place, particularly the transport links that formed the base of the envisioned corridors.

"The crucial question now is how to ensure that these infrastructure links will yield their intended benefits in terms of increased trade flows, investment activity, industrial growth, employment, and incomes," he said.

He said the ECF needed to go back to its original focus of finding ways to boost trade and investment, and hasten the development of industries along the economic corridors.

Ways to achieve this included through transport and trade - and the development of special economic zones, such as cross-border economic zones, export processing zones, and industrial parks.

The forum also discussed ways to improve co-ordination and integration in carrying out the proposed measures by sharing experience within and outside the region and promoting involvement of the private sector.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said that the development of economic corridors was a complicated and time-consuming process.

"But it is the most effective tool for country members to approach enhanced connectivity, competitiveness, and a greater sense of community," he said.

Sok Chenda Sophea, secretary general of the Cambodia Development Council, said that economic corridors helped the country develop its economy. He added that co-operation with neighbouring countries was crucial for a sustainable economic development.

The GMS countries formed the forum in 2008 to bolster efforts in transforming GMS transport corridors into economic corridors connecting dynamic hubs of economic activity.

The forum focuses on economic corridor development and helps improve interaction between the public and private sectors, and between central and local governments.

The ADB has supported the establishment of the East-West, North-South, and Southern GMS Economic Corridors since 1998 to promote economic growth and integration in the subregion. — VNS

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