(CPV) – Vice Foreign Ministers of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Kingdom of Thailand and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, gathered in Dong Ha City, Quang Tri province on May 18th 2012 to discuss the progress and challenges in the implementation of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Cross-Border Transport Agreement (CBTA) along the East-West Economic Corridor.
The meeting was also attended by representatives of the provincial authority of Da Nang, Thua Thien Hue, and Quang Tri of Vietnam; Savannakhet of Lao PDR; and Mukdahan of Thailand. Representatives of ADB, Embassy of Japan in Hanoi, JBIC, KICA also participated this meeting.
Delegates emphasized the vital role of economic corridors to subregional development in the new GMS Strategic Framework 2012 – 2022, at the 4th GMS Summit in Nay Pi Taw, December 2011; and on the need to broaden and deepen existing transport corridors through various measures, including accelerated and vigorous implementation of transport and trade facilitation, and promotion of logistic and investment along the corridors, aiming for free flow of goods and passengers between the three countries in the future.
The East – West Economic Corridor (EWEC) has achieved many of the targeted infrastructural benchmarks. The Strategy and Action Plan for EWEC set in 2009 has been undertaken with tangible progress. Many infrastructure, tourism, environment and social projects have been either completed or on-going.
Delegates acknowledged the efforts made by the three countries to facilitate transport and trade along EWEC, which include: the upgrade of roads and highways, construction of missing links, conclusion and signing of CBTA annexes and protocols, harmonization of operating hours at Lao Bao – Dansavanh and Mukdahan – Savannakhet border checkpoints, starting the implementation of single stop inspection and single window inspection at Lao Bao – Dansavanh, and single window inspection at Savannakhet – Mukdahan.
They acknowledged the important contribution of EWEC to the region over the past years, particularly in improving regional connectivity, reducing travel time and cost, enhancing trade and investment in the region, promoting tourism, creating jobs, developing township and economic activities along the corridor.
Recognizing the mature of EWEC as a development corridor targeting some of the poor areas in the region, delegates agreed that although much progress has been made, the corridor has not brought about benefits as it is expected.
Investment in manufacturing and service industries in the region is still limited. There remain many impediments hindering the transport of goods and people along the corridor.
With a view to bringing EWEC into full play and better serving the needs of people and businesses, delegates agreed on the following: infrastructure development; CBTA and transport of passenger; single stop inspection; traffic rights; customs transit system (CTS); Application of regulations along the corridor; compulsory automobile liability insurance system (Blue card); GMS freight transport association and fees.
Delegates called on development partners and the private sector to actively support and work closely with EWEC countries in the development of the corridor as well as addressing the current impediments and challenges.
They expect to notify the progress of this mechanism to Ministerial meetings of ACMECS, Mekong-Japan, Mekong-RoK and Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) and to invite those development partners to attend the Meeting in the future. They welcomed Japan’s support to upgrade Route No.9 in Savannakhet, they emphasized the need for better coordination between central and local government between public and private sectors, and among localities along EWEC.
Delegates noted the potential of Routes No.8 and No.12 in addition to EWEC; therefore, they tasked experts to study ways and means to facilitate transportation of passengers and goods along these routes, the possibility of a trilateral (Lao PDR – Thailand – Vietnam) arrangement, including the legal framework, and mobilization of funding for the improvement of these roads and facilities to meet the required standards.
In order to strengthen the coordination among EWEC countries, delegates agreed to hold annual meeting of Vice Foreign Ministers in rotating manner. The Meeting will be supported by Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM). Expert meeting are to be held and their outcomes are to be submitted to SOM. They look forward to the participation of Myanmar in this mechanism.
The second meeting of Vice Foreign Ministers on EWEC will be held in Lao PDR at a convenient date in 2013./.