As the East Asian region prepares the details for a mooted 80 Billion USD fund to cope with the global financial crisis, subregional cooperation is being revved up as well.
Leaders from the Mekong subregion (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) gathered in Vietnam on 7 November 2008 for the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Forum to formulate joint approaches in coping with the financial crisis in anticipation of a slowdown in foreign developmental aid and FDIs. The poorest countries in the subregion are extremely worried.
The convenor of the Forum, Vietnam's PM Nguyen Tan Dung focused on augmenting transport, trade and investment amongst the Mekong states as one possible avenue to cope with the crisis. Thailand's Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat pointed out the region has been affected by volatility oil and food prices and wants to put the agenda of rice price stabilization on the table. Cambodia's Hun Sen focused on the need for a innovative mechanism for project financing.
Another way is to enhance closer mutual transport (highways and bridges) and commercial links and with the economic power of neighbour China. In the spirit of subregional self-help, Thailand volunteered to finance a third Mekong river bridge to Laos between the northeastern city of Nakorn Phanom and Kam Muan. All these are done in the hope that the subregion can integrate faster for augmenting trade and investment and lessen the hassles of border inspection and customs rules.
The ACMECS group are targeting seven areas in economic development: telecommunication, tourism, trade and investment, agriculture, industry and energy, human resource development and public health development. In the area of tourism, a declaration to work towards the "Five Nations, One Destination" tourism scheme is seen as a test case of political wills.
AFP, “Mekong PMs discuss development amid global financial turmoil” dated 9 November 2008 in the AFP google website [downloaded on 9 November 2008], available at http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jLLf4q1FIlHxNoZz2RD1nJNMsvvQ