GMS nations back investment boost
Chiang Rai: The region's transportation network stands to get an investment boost after the The 21st Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Ministerial Conference decided on a new investment plan yesterday.
Six ministers from GMS countries -- China, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar -- endorsed an additional 14 investment projects on infrastructure and development for the second phase of its Regional Investment Framework Implementation Plan, they said in a statement after yesterday's meeting.
The decision will increase development projects from 93 to 107 approved in the previous plan, taking the investment budget from US$30 billion under the previous plan to US$32.6 billion.
Financial investment will come from various sources, such as country governments, the private sector, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other partner development banks such as the World Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
"The agreement to enhance connectivity between Mekong River capitals, major economic centres and important maritime gateways establishes a firm foundation for a more prosperous and inclusive sub-region," said ADB vice-president Stephen Groff.
ADB is a funding agency for development which helped those six countries establish the sub-regional bloc 24 years ago.
Most of the projects involve transportation infrastructure, and road, railway and maritime connectivity.
Among the projects are Thailand's Mae Sot-Myanmar's Myawaddy border crossing, the Nonthaburi-Kanchanaburi Intercity Motorway Project linking Laem Chabang in Chon Buri, Bangkok and Dawei in Myanmar, a new Mekong bridge linking Thailand's Bung Kan province and Paksin district in Laos, and a railway bridge between Cambodia's Poipet and Thailand's Klong Luek in Sakaeo's Aranyaprathet district.
The conference also discussed closer cooperation on cross-border transportation to eliminate different regulations on traffic road safety among the GMS countries; and opening a Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office in the near future.
The meeting also acknowledged a new agricultural strategy to turn GMS into a production and market for healthy and environmentally-friendly food.