Ministers from Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam have set forth a comprehensive plan for strengthening economic cooperation and accelerating development through both short-term and long-term initiatives.
The plan, which focuses on energy and human resource development, prescribes a specific roadmap for expanding cross-border energy trade and increasing integration in the power sector of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) over the next several years. The delegates to the 15th GMS Ministerial Conference in Petchburi province, Thailand agreed to cooperate to extend modern energy access to all GMS communities, utilizing not just rural electrification schemes and off-grid power systems but also capitalizing on the diverse resource base of water, oil, gas, and coal shared by countries in the region.
Promoting safer labor migration, improving energy efficiency and security, strengthening communicable disease control, combating human trafficking, and bolstering education and skills development throughout the six countries were among the other topics tackled by the GMS ministers.
“The agreement to accelerate action on cross-border power trade and the development of renewable energy resources will boost energy security through improved efficiency of energy use, while contributing to reduced greenhouse emissions in a sub-region which is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” commented Asian Development Bank Vice President C. Lawrence Greenwood on the GMS agreements.
The recent bout of GMS cooperation follows closely on the heels of a lauded new traffic agreement among Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam that aims similarly to increase cooperation in the region. The new agreement allows trucks to transit the three countries without having to make stops and unload cargo at border crossings for trans-shipment and, if successful, the new trucking policy is expected to expand into other countries in the region as well to facilitate local trade.