25th Meeting of the GMS Subregional Transport Forum (STF-25)
Bavet Checkpoint: Moc Bai, Viet Nam / Bavet, Cambodia on Route 1 to Phnom Penh. Photo by Gerhard Jörén/ADB.
The Government of Cambodia will host the 25th Meeting of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Subregional Transport Forum (STF-25) on 14 June 2022 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The theme of STF-25 is “Taking Action on GMS 2030 Strategy and COVID-19 Plan with Emerging Ideas.”
This year’s meeting will be held in-person and virtually. Its main objectives are the following:
- To report and exchange ideas on how the STF can contribute toward implementing the priorities and initiatives under the GMS Economic Cooperation Program Strategic Framework 2030 (GMS-2030) and GMS COVID-19 Response and Recovery Plan; and
- To update and/or agree on the next steps for: (i) Road Safety in GMS; (ii) Greater Mekong Railway Association (GMRA) and GMS Railway Development; (iii) GMS Freight Transport Association (FRETA) and Improvements in logistics in GMS; and (iv) Early Harvest GMS CBTA.
The Asian Development Bank will jointly organize this year’s meeting with the Government of Cambodia.
The STF reviews, coordinates, and monitors regional transport plans and projects of GMS member countries. The 24th Subregional Transport Forum was held virtually on 21 January 2021 hosted by the Government of Viet Nam.
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT) of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) hosted the 25th Meeting of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Subregional Transport Forum (STF-25) on 14 June 2022 in hybrid format, in-person in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and virtually through Zoom. The Forum took on the theme “Taking Action on GMS 2030 Strategy and COVID-19 Plan with Emerging Ideas”. STF-25 was chaired by His Excellency Pich Chhieng, Director General, General Department of Logistics, MPWT, and co-chaired by Mr. Hiroaki Yamaguchi, Director, Southeast Asia Department Transport and Communications Division, ADB.
The STF reviews, coordinates, and monitors regional transport plans and projects of GMS member countries. This year’s STF-25 was held to (i) report and exchange ideas on how the Working Group can contribute to implementing the priorities and initiatives under the GMS-2030 and COVID-19 Plan; and (ii) provide updates and/or agree on steps on road safety in GMS; Greater Mekong Railway Association (GMRA) and GMS Railway Development; GMS Freight Transport Association (FRETA) and improvements in logistics in GMS; and Early Harvest GMS CBTA.
Remarks highlight achievements of the Transport sector, emphasize theme
STF-25 was graced by His Excellency Trac Thai Sieng, Secretary of State, representing H.E. Sun Chanthol, Senior Minister, MPWT of the Royal Government of Cambodia. In his keynote speech, he emphasized the importance of the transport sector in GMS cooperation and cited some of its recent achievements, including the dynamic progress of the transport investment and technical assistance projects in GMS Regional Investment Framework (RIF) 2022 — with 78 projects worth $65.8 billion and which makes up 85% of the total RIF value. He also highlighted that through the framework of the GMRA, GMS countries are now moving forward in pursuing various priority railway links. He encouraged the Forum to discuss transport priorities under the GMS Strategic Framework 2030 (GMS-2030) and identify both medium and long-term actions to help implementing those priorities, review current practices to promote the recovery of the transport sector after the pandemic and, propose additional short and medium-term solutions under the GMS Program.
In his opening remarks, His Excellency Pich Chhieng recognized that the GMS 2030 identifies clear transport priority areas and noted that it is crucial for GMS countries to discuss and agree on specific initiatives to put these priority objectives into action.
Mr. Hiroaki Yamaguchi, in his opening statement, noted that GMS countries continue to have a clear understanding of the need to enhance collaboration on their path to recovery. He pointed out that the transport sector features prominently in GMS-2030 and underscored the need for the Forum to identify and deliver key elements of change that will help implement the GMS 2030 and launch the subregion into the next decade.
Key outcomes of the Meeting
The Program of the Forum reflected the objectives of the Meeting. Key outcomes are as follows:
- Briefing on GMS-2030 and the GMS COVID-19 Response and Recovery Plan 2021-2023, and presentation of the proposed new RIF 2022, by Mr. Alfredo Perdiguero, Director, Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, and their relevance to the transport sector. He discussed the alignment of these documents with the GMS Transport Strategy 2030. He also presented the proposed new RIF 2022, highlighting the criteria and process for inclusion of GMS projects.
- Country representatives shared their respective views on specific areas in the transport sector that should be prioritized and presented their ongoing and planned activities that are in support of GMS-2030 and COVID-19 Plan implementation.
- Brief update on Early Harvest Implementation of the CBTA in the GMS and the status of GMRA initiatives including the implementation challenges by Mr. Nazrul Mohammad Islam, Transport Specialist, Southeast Asia Department, ADB.
- On the Early Harvest Implementation of the CBTA, countries affirmed the need to resume dialogue and initiatives under GMS CBTA, and
- On the GMRA, he updated the Forum that ADB Technical Assistance, Connecting the Railways of the Greater Mekong Subregion, Phase 2 (TA 9918), will continue to support finalization of the: (a) updated roadmap for the establishment of a GMRA and Secretariat; (b) final draft of the Framework Agreement for Cross-Border Railway Transport Connectivity; (c) Rail Operational Readiness Plan; and (d) an updated GMS cross-border rail network strategy including pre-feasibility study of alignment options for project 2- CAM-VIE: Snoul/ Loc Ninh- and network analysis of projects 7-THA-LAO-VIE:Mukdahan/Lao Bao/Dong Ha) and 8-LAO-CAM: Dong Kralor/ Voun Kam.
- Discussion on “Road Safety in the GMS” by Mr. Shihiru Date, Senior Transport Specialist, Southeast Asia Department, ADB. Mr. Date highlighted the decade-long assistance of the STF in improving road safety for GMS countries, which remains a substantial issue. He emphasized the importance of knowledge sharing on the topic, including experiences in road safety program implementation during this COVID-19 pandemic.
- A session was held on innovative approach of “Embracing Private Sector Solutions,” in particular, support for investments in inland dry ports, logistics hubs, and inland container depots and foster close linkages with the private sector (freight transport associations) while building the capacity of relevant stakeholders.
- Mr. Lui Jin Xin, President of China Kunming South Asia and Southeast Asia International Logistics Research Institute, shared successful cases and some technical solutions on how to recover the loss of international transportation volumes in the subregion. He recommended technical solutions, including the following: (i) closed-loop management, contactless operation process, smart port customs clearance, centralized disinfection and detection and isolation; (ii) transformation into multimodal container transport, construction of emergency logistics infrastructure, set up of inspection points; and (iii) International consultation and exchange, support the enterprises to carry out the joint research programs. He also suggested ADB support and participation in the meetings and activities of the Multimodal Transport Logistics Alliance of China-Laos-Thailand Economic Corridor (SSILR, LNCCI, TLSP).
- Statements/updates from Development Partners. Representatives from Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Neighboring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA) of Thailand, and the World Bank discussed ongoing initiatives that are contributing to the GMS transport sector, and potential ways of further enhancing collaboration.
Way forward for the GMS Transport Sector
In his wrap-up, Mr. Yamaguchi notes that the Forum affirms that GMS countries' implementation of transport priorities are in line with GMS 2030; countries want to resume dialogue and initiatives under GMS CBTA; countries are requested to prepare for their RIF projects considering the new and more practical RIF criteria and process for 2022; behavioral interventions and wide-ranging stakeholders’ involvement are key to effective reduction of road crashes and fatalities; countries will continue working on GMS railway development; ADB will explore suggestions to facilitate a multimodal transport logistics alliance; loans for smart ports construction and support to resume international shipping in the Mekong River; and countries will continue to work together with development partners, with development partners continuing to facilitate best leverage to support GMS transport priorities.
The meeting discussed plans for the 26th STF. The People's Republic of China (PRC) agreed in principle to host the next STF meeting.
Last Updated: 10 May 2022