GMS needs $9bn more

New infusion of US$9bn estimated

The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) is expected to need an additional US$9 billion to achieve full-fledged economic corridors spanning the six GMS countries, says the government's planning unit.

Investment under the GMS framework has totalled $15 billion over the past 20 years, mainly for transportation networks and academic assistance.

Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board, said the new investment framework should focus on building infrastructure and logistics networks as well as relevant facilities.

The new investment should also cover the missing road links, ports and facilities at significant checkpoints, border towns, and special economic zones, he said.

The remaining projects should entail agricultural and energy development and improve regulations to facilitate private investment.

PM's Office Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan said the Thai government should be instrumental in developing a regional transport network, while the Asian Development Bank should support funding of Myanmar's construction of the 189-kilometre Myawaddy-Kokariek-Thaton road, part of the East-West Economic Corridor covering Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and central Vietnam.

Currently, there remain two missing links along the route, while Thailand has already financed development of the first 18 km.

The second missing link _ the 82-km section of route R11 in Laos for which the Thai government awarded 1.39 billion baht _ is under construction.

The transport network of the North-South Economic Corridor will be finalised after the fourth Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge (Chiang Khong-Huay Xai) is completed within the next two years.

In addition, Thailand has asked members to improve regulations in order to facilitate border trade, improve facilities along the economic corridor and implement insurance across the border as well as improve management at checkpoints.

In a related development, Transport Minister Chatchart Sithipan said the government expects parliament will soon approve the cross-border transport agreement between Thailand and Laos for the Chiang Khong-Huay Xai-Boten checkpoint with Laos and the Mohan checkpoint with China after the cabinet approved the draft.

The pact will help boost border trade and tourism between Thailand, Laos and southern China, while the 1,800-km road from Thailand via Laos to Kunming is already completed, he said.

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Writer: Chatrudee Theparat
Position: Business Reporter