Thailand has supported the Cross Border Transport Agreement (CBTA) and is ready to eliminate border inspection stops to let foreign vehicles and ships travelling from countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region into the country, says Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.
"Once fully implemented, the agreement will allow the seamless shipment of goods. Ships and vehicles will be able to pass through the GMS's [land and marine] network," Mr Arkhom said on Wednesday at an Asian Development Bank seminar held in Bangkok.
Mr Arkhom was talking about the CBTA, a pro-trade-flow agreement that requires the elimination of border inspections among six countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).
The countries are Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and China's Yunnan province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region.
The countries adopted the CBTA in March last year. Kicking off this June, the first phase would grant all member countries a quota of 500 cargo trucks to cross the border to another country using a so-called "temporary admission document", which covers both lorries and the containers they carry.
Mr Arkhom said the CBTA issue would be discussed at the upcoming GMS Ministerial Meeting in Hanoi this month. Mr Arkhom today will fly to Hanoi to attend the ministerial meeting in preparation for the Sixth GMS Summit of Leaders to be held on March 29-31.
The highlight of the discussion is the CBTA, he said. If ministers from the GMS could strike deals on practices and regulations at the meeting this month, Thailand could eliminate inspection sites to let carriers from other GMS member countries to enter the nation by 2020.
Mr Arkhom said the policy will increase trade among developing countries in the region. "We are no longer competing against one another. It is more of an agreement for those who excel in certain fields to help other member countries out. For instance, one member country may offer more jobs for countries with a surplus of labour or workforce," he said.
Thailand, said Mr Arkhom, has been active on building connectivity in the GMS. For instance, the country is planning to build a new bridge linking Thailand's upper-northeastern province Bung Kan to Laos' Bolikhamsai province. The bridge will be around 16.18km long. Thailand would build 12.13km while Laos would be responsible for building 3.18km, according to the Department of Highways.
Meanwhile, the Thai-Cambodian railway linking Thailand's Aranyaprathet disctrict in Sa Kaeo province, to Cambodia's Poipet city in Banteay Meanchey province, is under construction and expected to be completed by the end of this year. When finished, this rail route would link Thailand with Phnom Penh, because a local railway from Poipet city to the capital city would start operation this year, according to Mr Arkhom.
The GMS is a economic zone created in 1992 with the advocacy of the ADB to boost cooperation in trade, tourism, energy and other sectors including agriculture and the environment. The bloc covers around 2.6 million sq km of land, with a population of around 326 million people.