6th GMS Summit and 10th CLV Summit in Mekong: Cooperation and development

VCN- Continuing the success of APEC 2017, into the new year of 2018, Vietnam is honored to host the 6th Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Summit with the participation of six countries: Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam; and the 10th Cambodia – Laos – Viet Nam (CLV) Development Triangle Area (DTA) Summit, to be held in Ha Noi on 30 and 31 March 2018.
tin nhap 20180329210229 Mekong-Lancang foreign ministers convene third meeting in China
tin nhap 20180329210229 PM asks Mekong Delta to develop smart, sustainable agriculture
tin nhap 20180329210229 Concerted efforts for climate-resilient development of Mekong Delta
tin nhap 20180329210229
10th CLV Summit at Vietnam national convention center. Photo: Hoang Anh.

With the Prime Minister’s leadership, Viet Nam raised the initiative of holding for the first time the GMS Business Summit forum.

Cooperation and development in the region

The Mekong subregion consists of five countries bound by the Mekong: Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. From the early 1990s, against the backdrop of regionalization and given the need for greater economic integration, cooperation in the Mekong has seen a major shift. If early on, Mekong cooperation only focused on within the riparian countries, at present it has expanded to include many more cooperation mechanisms between the Mekong countries and major partners, including the United States, China, Japan, India and the Republic of Korea. The interest of the international community and development partners stem from the strategic location as well as the strong potential for growth of this region.

The GMS Economic Cooperation Program, assisted by the ADB is the first mechanism to be formed in the region in 1992, comprised of the five Mekong countries and China (represented by the two provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi), with the goal of promoting and facilitating mutually beneficial economic cooperation between the countries, making the Mekong region a fast-growing and prosperous region in Southeast Asia.

A number of other cooperation mechanisms have also been formed: CLV DTA Cooperation, Cambodia – Laos – Myanmar – Viet Nam (CLMV) Cooperation and the Ayeyarwadi – Chao Phraya – Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) between Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam. These mechanisms aim to narrow the development gap and assist the Mekong countries in integrating further into the regional economy and promoting cooperation in addressing common challenges. Among these, CLV cooperation was formed in 1999 and seeks to promote solidarity and cooperation, ensuring security and political stability, and reducing poverty and promote socio-economic development in the three countries Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam.

Mekong cooperation mechanisms has had very important contributions to the development of the region. These cooperation frameworks, in essence mechanisms for policy coordination, are forums for the Mekong countries to strengthen confidence and promote dialogue in order to address common challenges on the basis of harmonizing interests among the parties – challenges that are impossible to overcome with the individual effort of each country or even with bilateral cooperation. In addition, Mekong cooperation mechanisms, through concrete programs and projects, have also made substantial contributions to regional connectivity, narrowing the development gap and raising the people’s living standard.

In this process, development partners have played a major role. Within the framework of GMS cooperation, the countries and development partners have raised some $US 21 billion for economic and social development projects in the six member countries. Japan assisted Mekong countries with around ¥1.1 trillion ($US13 billion) for the 2009 – 2015 period, and has disbursed two thirds of the JP¥ 750 billion ($US 6.5 billion) pledge for the 2016 – 2018 period. The United States donated $US 50 million to the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) and pledges $US1.25 million to initiate the Sustainable Infrastructure Project for the 2016 – 2018 period. India is making a $US 1 million annual contribution for the India-CLMV Quick Impact Project (QIP) Revolving Fund, and continues to give scholarships to Mekong countries. The RoK pledges to make a $US 1 million annual contribution to the Mekong – RoK Cooperation Fund. Just recently, China has made a plan to invest some $US 10 billion for the region, in particular in North-South transport connectivity. China also pledges $US 300 million to the Mekong – Lancang Special Cooperation Fund, along with many preferential loans and buy-side credit lines.

As a whole, the Mekong region is Viet Nam’s immediate security and development space. In addition to contributing to creating a peaceful and enabling environment in the region, thus helping Viet Nam’s stability and development, Mekong cooperation implementing in Viet Nam is also bringing about concrete benefits.

Viet Nam – the leading member

Being deeply aware of the importance of the Mekong region, Viet Nam has been actively taking part in all Mekong cooperation mechanisms, joining hands with other members in building an effective working mechanism that would build on the strengths of all parties and meet the development needs of the region. A number of Viet Nam’s remarkable contributions are worth mentioning:

First, in trade and investment, Viet Nam has participated in trade and investment facilitation activities within the GMS framework, including the Strategic Framework for Action on Trade Facilitation and Investment (SFA-TFI), which is primarily about customs procedures simplification, sanitary and phytosanitary regulations harmonization to reduce inspection time at border checkpoints, logistics capacity improvement, and visa procedure simplification for business people in the region.

Apart from cooperation in developing hard infrastructure, Viet Nam and GMS countries have completed the signing of all protocols and annexes of the GMS Cross-Border Transport Facilitation Agreement (CBTA-GMS); and at the same time signed a memorandum of understanding on the ‘early harvest’ implementation of the CBTA-GMS. The “one-stop-shop” model of inspection has been implemented at the Lao Bao – Densavan border checkpoints between Viet Nam and Laos starting from 2015. Presently Viet Nam is also negotiating for the pilot implementation of this model at the Moc Bai – Bavet border checkpoint between Viet Nam and Cambodia.

Second, in environment and water resource management cooperation within Mekong frameworks, Viet Nam has, together with MRC members, actively negotiated for and finalized regulations and procedures for data sharing and monitoring of the current water usage, undertaken prior informing and discussions on the use of water, and maintained the flow along the main stream of the Mekong to translate into reality the Mekong Agreement and the responsibility of member countries in protecting the Mekong water resource.

Within ACMECS, Viet Nam is the first country to raise the idea of establishing an environment working group, draft an Action Plan and co-chair the working group. Viet Nam also plays the leading role in environmental cooperation in Lower Mekong – US Cooperation; and actively shares in the “A Decade Towards a Green Mekong” initiative in Mekong – Japan cooperation. Viet Nam also actively partakes in water resource cooperation in the Mekong – Lancang mechanism. Within GMS, Viet Nam enthusiastically takes part in building the GMS Strategic Environment Protection Framework, establishing an environment data and management system, reducing poverty and managing the environment in remote areas and upstream woodlands, managing and protecting the mangrove swampland in the lower Mekong, and strengthening institutions and training for environment protection..

Third, in education and training, Viet Nam has dispatched hundreds of officials on scholarship and training programs within sub-regional cooperation mechanisms across many areas, including infrastructural network management, project design and assessment, trade and education management policy-making and leadership in development to name but a few. Viet Nam also participates in the building of the Strategic Framework and Action Plan for Human Resource Development in the GMS for the 2009 – 2012 and 2013–2017 periods, which aims at promoting sustainable human resource development, assisting the implementation of regional human resource cooperation initiatives, and addressing trans-border issues pertaining to human resource among the GMS countries.

Fourth, far from merely benefiting, Viet Nam has also made significant contributions to GMS cooperation in many forms, such as organizing conferences and seminars, drafting important documents, promoting initiatives and financial assistance. Viet Nam successfully hosted the 7th ACMECS and 8th CLMV Summits (In October 2016), the second Mekong – Japan Summit, the third Mekong – Japan Ministerial Meeting and the second Mekong – US Ministerial Meeting (2010), and, in particular, the GMS-6 and CLV-10 Summits in Hanoi from 29 to 31 March 2018.

tin nhap 20180329210229 PM calls for increased Mekong co-operation

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc called on six countries along the Mekong River to increase co-operation in ...

Mekong cooperation mechanisms are very significant to and in line with Viet Nam’s economic and social development priorities. Given her raised status and power as well as the development and international integration experience gleaned across the last 30 years, Viet Nam is now better able and poised to participate in Mekong cooperation, thereby serving the nation’s economic and social development and contributing to peace, cooperation and development in the region.

By Hoang Anh

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