Mekong countries forge growth plan

Mekong countries forge growth plan

Member countries of the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) are working to develop a master development plan for 2019-23 to strengthen sustainable economic growth and enact better economic management.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said the ad hoc committee working on ACMECS's master plan is scheduled to finalise it in April before submitting it for approval to the eighth ACMECS summit scheduled for June in Thailand.

Thailand is chairman of ACMECS from October 2017 to June 2018.

The group is a cooperation framework among Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam (CLMVT), using member countries' diverse strengths to promote balanced development in the subregion, Mr Somkid said. The Thai government initiated the establishment of the cooperation framework in April 2003. The areas of cooperation include transport, trade and investment facilitation.

Mr Somkid said the master plan comprises three objectives: seamless development of infrastructure projects in the subregion; economic development, especially for the joint establishment of the ACMECS infrastructure fund; and human and environmental development.

He said the master plan should also help members better manage the effects from global changes and their ability to manage economic growth.

Mr Somkid said the subregion's economy is expected to grow by 6-8% a year, higher than the average growth of the global economy, which is estimated to rise 2-3%.

Many countries are involved in the subregion's development. There are several cooperation frameworks, including the Greater Mekong Subregion, which is financially supported by Japan; and the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, initiated by China in 2014, covering connectivity, production capacity, cross-border economic cooperation, water resource management, agriculture and poverty reduction.

Chinese President Li Keqiang announced in the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation summit on Jan 10 in Cambodia that China would provide another 7 billion yuan (34.8 billion baht) in government concession loans to CLMVT countries.

Mr Li also announced the establishment of a US$5-billion (157-billion-baht) credit line for supporting production capacity and equipment manufacturing cooperation among the Lancang-Mekong countries.

The new offer came after China supplied the CLMVT with 10 billion yuan in concession loans, $5 billion in export credit and $5 billion for capacity cooperation on more than 20 infrastructure and industry projects.

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