Summary of Proceedings

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) organized a Development Partners' Meeting, the 9th Economic Corridors Forum, and the 22nd GMS Ministerial Conference on 18-20 September 2017 in Ha Noi, Viet Nam. These events coincide with the 25th Anniversary of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Program, leading up to the Sixth GMS Summit of Leaders in March 2018 in Viet Nam.

The 9th Economic Corridors Forum discussed measures to deepen and widen connectivity along GMS economic corridors, such as multimodal transport, logistics development, and role of the private sector.  The forum also discussed strengthening multisector and intersector linkages, including border area development, role of the governors forum, and cross-border e-commerce.

At the 22nd GMS Ministerial Conference, the Ministers acknowledged the program's achievements as it celebrates 25 years of economic cooperation, and endorsed a 5-year action plan framework. The ministers welcomed the preparation of the Ha Noi Action Plan 2018-2022, which calls for an expansion of economic corridors to boost connectivity between countries as well as within rural and urban centers to ensure a more equitable distribution of the benefits of economic growth. They also endorsed the GMS Regional Investment Framework 2022, to support the the Ha Noi Action Plan through a pipeline of 222 investment and technical assistance projects valued at $64 billion.

The Ministers also endorsed the GMS Tourism Sector Strategy 2016-2025 and the initiation of a new Working Group on GMS Health Cooperation, welcomed the GMS strategy to promote safe and environment-friendly agriculture products, and noted the development of a new GMS Transport Sector Strategy. Read the news release.

These meetings brought together the GMS Ministers and Senior Officials of the six GMS countries (Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam); the GMS Business Council; and development partners.

The 39th Greater Mekong Subregion Tourism Working Group Meeting (TWG-39) was held on 5 June 2017 in Luang Prabang, Lao People's Democratic Republic. The meeting was co-organized by the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICT), the provincial government of Luang Prabang, and the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO). It was attended by representatives of the National Tourism Organizations of the six GMS countries (Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam), MTCO, the Asian Development Bank, and other development partners including the World Tourism Organization, Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration of Thailand, Swisscontact, Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency, ASEAN-Korea Center, and ASEAN-Japan Center.

The list of participants is in Appendix 1.

The 22nd Annual Meeting of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Working Group on Environment (WGE AM-22) was held on 26-27 July 2016 in Da Nang, Viet Nam.

The meeting was chaired by Dr. Nguyen The Chinh, Director General, Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Viet Nam; and co-chaired by Mr. Pavit Ramachandran, Senior Environment Specialist, Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Division, Southeast Asia Department, Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The meeting was attended by representatives from the environment and other relevant ministries of Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam; the GMS National Secretariats; co-financing and other development partners; ADB; experts of NIRAS Finland Oy, consulting firm engaged to manage the Core Environment Program (CEP); and other GMS Environment Operations Center (EOC) staff.

The 21st Meeting of the Subregional Transport Forum (STF-21) was held in Luang Prabang, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) on 19–20 July 2017. It was jointly organized by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT) of Lao PDR and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The theme of the meeting was: “Toward an Efficient GMS Multimodal Transport System.” The objectives were to:

  • review the initial working draft of the proposed new Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Transport Sector Strategy (TSS) under preparation;
  • review developments in axle load control practices in the GMS and proposals on improving their effectiveness;
  • review the report on the state of development of GMS economic corridors from the study “GMS Corridors Assessment”;
  • update the meeting on the progress of the Midterm Review of the GMS Strategic Framework, and the preparation of a five-year action plan;
  • review the initial progress report on Cross-border Transport Agreement (CBTA) “Early Harvest” implementation;
  • review progress and plans in the GMS railway sector toward the development of a GMS railway network, including the initial findings of the study currently being undertaken on the missing rail links in the subregion; and
  • discuss other topics that have a bearing on the GMS transport sector.
Table of Contents
Summary of Proceedings
Appendix 1: Meeting Program and Agenda
Appendix 2: List of Participants
Appendix 3: Opening Remarks of Vice-Minister Viengsavath Siphandone, Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT), Lao PDR
Appendix 4: Opening Remarks of Vice-Governor Vongsavanh Tepphachanh of Luang Prabang
Appendix 5: Opening Remarks of Director General Oulay Phadouangdeth, Department of Planning and Cooperation, MPWT, Lao PDR (STF-21 Chair)
Appendix 6: Opening Statement of Country Director Hideaki Iwasaki, Thailand Resident Mission, Asian Development Bank (STF-21 Co-Chair)
Appendix 7: Preliminary Findings of the Mid-Term Review of the GMS Strategic Framework 2012-2022 and Indicative Elements of the Hanoi Action Plan 2018-2022
Appendix 8: Overview of Draft GMS Transport Sector Strategy
Appendix 9: Progress Report on Assessment of GMS Economic Corridors
Appendix 10: Stocktaking on Axle Load Control of GMS Countries
Appendix 11: Review on the Status of Axle Load Control Practices in GMS Countries
Appendix 12: “Early Harvest” Implementation of the GMS Cross Border Transportation Facilitation
Agreement
Appendix 13: Greater Mekong Railway Association – An Update
Appendix 14: Development Initiative for Road Asset Management of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
Appendix 15: Scholarship Program under JICA’s Development Initiative for Road Asset Management
Appendix 16: Cooperation with Neighboring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA) of Thailand on Infrastructure Financing for Regional Development

The Regional Power Trade Coordination Committee of the Greater Mekong Subregion convened its 22nd meeting (RPTCC-22), with back-to-back meetings of the Working Group on Performance Standards and Grid Codes (WGPG) and Working Group on Regulatory Issues (WGRI), on 19–21June 2017 in Chengdu, People’s Republic of China.

The meeting concluded work performed in 2016 under WGPG and WGRI; and discussed future activities to support cross-border power interconnections and trade in the subregion.

The RPTCC-22 was organized by the National Energy Administration of the People’s Republic of China in cooperation with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The Regional Power Trade Coordination Committee convened its 21st meeting (RPTCC-21), with back-to-back meetings of the Working Group on Performance Standards and Grid Codes (WGPG) and Working Group on Regulatory Issues (WGRI), on 8–9 December 2016 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The meetings (i) discussed the latest results of activities under the WGPG and WGRI, (ii) deliberated on the follow-up actions under the working groups, (iii) updated country power sector development, and (iv) discussed future cross-border power interconnection and trade in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

The 14th Annual Meeting of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Working Group on Agriculture (WGA AM-14), held on 13-14 July 2017 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, was chaired by H.E. San Vanty, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF), Cambodia, and co-chaired by Mr. Pavit Ramachandran, Senior Environment Specialist, Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Division, Southeast Asia Department, Asian Development Bank (ADB).

An extraordinary meeting of the GMS Working Group on Human Resource Development (WGHRD-Ex) was held on 4 July 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand. The meeting was attended by representatives of the six GMS countries (Cambodia, PRC, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other development partners including GiZ, IOM, ILO, SEAMEO, and the ASEAN University Network (AUN) (list of participants in Appendix 1).

WGHRD-Ex was organized by ADB to seek the consensus of the six GMS countries on the findings and recommendations of the review of the GMS HRD Strategic Framework and Action Plan (SFAP) 2013-2017, and recommend new strategic directions for GMS cooperation in HRD beyond 2017. It aimed to (i) understand coordination efforts in the GMS within each of the HRD subgroups; (ii) obtain consensus regarding their future directions; and (iii) develop a plan of action for regional cooperation in health, education, labor and migration, and social development.

The meeting was chaired by Wolfgang Kubitzki of the Thailand Resident Mission of ADB. 

More than 50 participants from the Ministries of Health, Planning, and Finance of the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam) met on 5 July 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand to discuss the content and direction of the proposed GMS Strategy on Health Cooperation and the composition and terms of reference of the proposed Working Group on Health Cooperation (WGHC). The meeting was organized by the Asian Development Bank.

The participants raised the following points as considerations for the further development and discussion of the proposed strategy for health cooperation:

  • consider health as a regional public good,
  • respond to emerging health needs in the subregion through innovation and collaboration for improved national health systems, and
  • develop and harmonize standards for movement of people and goods.

The participants agreed to start country consultations immediately. The results will be shared at the First Working Group on Health Cooperation in December 2017 in Luang Prabang in the Lao PDR.

On the establishment of the proposed working group, it was noted that there is a growing demand for health cooperation in the subregion to serve as a platform for knowledge-sharing and information exchange, a mechanism for policy advocacy at the regional and country levels, and a mechanism for resource coordination and mobilization. There is also a growing need for regional health investment development, and to link to other sectors for the promotion and protection of people’s health.

The participants recommended that lessons from other GMS working groups should be reviewed to serve as useful inputs in the management of the proposed working group on health cooperation, ensuring members’ sustained participation, and preparing a 5-year blueprint and work plan based on the the GMS Strategy on Health Cooperation. It was also agreed that ADB should serve as the working group's secretariat.

The meeting also reviewed the list of regional and country project ideas on health cooperation. A regional investment portfolio is expected to be developed alongside the GMS Strategy on Health Cooperation.

The First Meeting of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Urban Development Working Group was held in Ha Noi, Viet Nam from 28 to 29 June 2017.

The objectives of the meeting were to

  • update recent developments of the overall GMS Program and review/confirm the GMS Regional Investment Framework 2022 Urban Development and Other Multisector projects;
  • discuss the planning and implementation of the GMS Corridor Towns Development Project;
  • discuss the ongoing ADB-financed regional technical assistance, TA9293-REG: Policy Coordination and Planning of Border Economic Zones of the People’s Republic of China and Viet Nam; and
  • discuss and agree on the terms of reference for the GMS Urban Working Group (upgraded from the GMS Urban Task Force) and its 3-year work plan.

The meeting was chaired by Duong Hung Cuong, Director in charge of GMS Program/Focal, Foreign Economic Relations Department, Ministry of Planning and Investment of Viet Nam. It was co-chaired by Eri Honda, Principal Urban Development Specialist of the Southeast Asia Department, Asian Development Bank (ADB). Meeting participants included delegations from each of the working group’s member countries, namely Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam, as well as ADB. The meeting also included representatives from the consulting firm conducting the technical assistance on Capacity Development for Economic Zones in Border Areas.