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Commitment to Stronger Partnerships
ADB Review [ August 2005 ]
Leaders vow to step up efforts to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development for all the Mekong countries
By Tsukasa Maekawa, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Principal External Relations Specialist
Prime ministers of six countries sharing the Mekong River concluded their 2-day summit meeting in early July 2005 by issuing the Kunming Declaration that renews their commitment to achieve an integrated, harmonious, and prosperous subregion through forging stronger partnerships.
“We pledge ourselves to closer and stronger partnerships for common prosperity,” said the declaration. “We are confident that, with our concerted effort, the joint vision we embrace will, over time, come to full fruition.”
The prime ministers of Cambodia, People’s Republic of China (PRC), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam noted the significant progress achieved over the past 13 years under the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation Program, which has been assisted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) since its inception in 1992.
Priority infrastructure projects worth around $5.2 billion have either been completed or are being implemented. These include the upgrading of the East-West Economic Corridor that will eventually extend from the Andaman Sea to the South China Sea.
The leaders vowed to step up efforts to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development for all the countries and people of the GMS by further enhancing connectivity, competitiveness, and promoting an increased sense of community.
“GMS regional cooperation is the key to achieving an accelerated decline in poverty in the Mekong countries while embracing the principles of sustainable and equitable development,” said ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda. “With rapid integration taking place in Asia, the GMS stands to benefit from a myriad of investment opportunities arising from stronger partnerships in crossborder trade.”
The GMS is expected to be interconnected by 2012 through regional infrastructure links being developed under the GMS program, and with the adoption of standardized arrangements on the movement of people and goods across borders. In support of this, the summit leaders agreed that the GMS countries will finalize all the remaining annexes and protocols of the GMS Cross-Border Transport Agreement within this year.
The summit leaders also approved a critical initiative to set up conservation corridors connecting important biodiversity areas in the subregion. In doing so, they stressed their commitment to protecting shared forest ecosystems as an essential strategy for sustainable development.
“Environmental conservation and sustainable management and use of shared natural resources in the Mekong River Basin are vital to the sustainable development in the subregion,” said the declaration.
The leaders reaffirmed that poverty reduction remains at the core of GMS development efforts. They pledged to give priority to improving the livelihoods of peoples in the subregion, with particular emphasis on rural households.
During the summit, the leaders witnessed the signing of important agreements in areas such as power trade, cross-border transport, animal disease control, and telecommunications. However, they noted that real progress in these and other critical areas of regional cooperation will depend upon the broadening of partnerships with donors and the private sector, and they called upon ADB to assist the GMS countries achieve this outcome.
The leaders agreed to meet again at their Third GMS Summit in the Lao PDR in 2008.
The participants at the summit were Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen, PRC Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Myanmar Prime Minister General Soe Win, Lao PDR Prime Minister Bounnhang Vorachit, Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and Viet Nam Prime Minister Phan Van Khai.