Erle Frayne D. Argonza

An end-of year (2011) good news was the meeting of Mekong leaders to plan ahead for tomorrow. A 10-year plan was forged among them, with the ADB acting out as process facilitator and co-convenor.

The Mekong region comprises a huge section of the continental Southeast Asia which by itself is a subregion of significant proportions. Boosting development growth in the subregion will surely impact greatly for the entire ASEAN. U.S. $14 Billion was earmarked for the projects, on top of the $5 Billions that was already expended by the ADB for the program.

Note that a $100-Billion Integrated Mekong River Project is now on-going, with China providing the biggest bulk of the funding. When finished, the gigantic project, which will be led by a system of hydro-electric dams, may turn out to be the world’s biggest ever.

Peoples of ASEAN should look forward to seeing the success of the development projects in the subregion.

[Philippines, 02 February 2012]

Mekong Leaders Agree on Wide-Ranging Development Plan for Next Decade
20 December 2011
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – At the conclusion of the 4th Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Summit today, leaders of the six nations that share the Mekong River agreed on a new 10-year plan to boost growth, development and poverty reduction across the GMS.
In a joint declaration issued at the conclusion of the Summit, GMS leaders endorsed a strategic framework for 2012 to 2022 that calls for a range of new measures to strengthen regional cooperation, including more effective resource utilization and more careful balancing of development with environmental concerns.
“The new Strategic Framework for 2012-2022 will move the GMS to the next level through multisector investment projects, policy development, and inter-sector coordination,” said ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda.
GMS leaders also endorsed strategies to enhance agricultural development, including food safety and security; accelerate the development and implementation of the pro-poor sustainable tourism industry, with the creation of multi-country tour packages to help spread revenues more widely; and promote low-carbon development and enhance management of the sub-region’s richly diverse ecosystems.
Since its inception in 1992, the GMS program has helped bring an area once divided by conflict increasingly together with investments of about $14 billion in projects with broad subregional benefits, including roads, airports and railways; telecommunications; energy; urban development; tourism; environmental protection; and the prevention of communicable diseases.
Since the start of the economic cooperation program, gross domestic product growth in the subregion has averaged about 8% a year, while real per capita incomes more than tripled between 1993 and 2010. As of September 2011, ADB assistance for the program totaled about $5 billion.
GMS members include Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, and Yunnan province and the Guangxi autonomous region in the People’s Republic of China.

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