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Jul 22, 2021 / 14:27

Mekong-Ganga Cooperation shows India’s extended assistance to regional countries

The cooperation between India and five Mekong countries Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam is aimed to shore up cooperation in the areas of tourism, culture, education, and transport.

India has committed to financing the Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) for other Mekong countries namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam at the 11th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

 Mekong-Ganga Cooperation includes six countries. File photo

The projects help bring about tangible results that contribute to improving people’s livelihoods across the sub-region, reported at the video conference on July 21 co-chaired by Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister for External Affairs of India and Prak Sokhonn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia.

Foreign Ministers of the Lower Mekong countries welcomed India’s assistance to the region under the QIPs since its inception in 2015. Under the program, some 68 projects worth US$3.4 million were implemented during 2016-2020.

In addition, India has provided a $2 billion loan to projects on developing water resources, infrastructure, digitalization, rural electrification, irrigation, and education in five Mekong countries.

 Foreign ministers at the meeting on July 21. Photos: Tuan Anh/Baoquocte

The ministers also emphasized that over the past two decades, many projects and activities under the MGC framework have constituted an active part in the development of the Mekong sub-region in terms of health, education, environment, culture, management of water resources, science, and technology, transport and information, capacity building and skills development.

In the field of trade and investment, the two-way trade between the Mekong countries and India rose 25 times over the past two decades to hit $25 billion in 2020. Transport projects have been expanded with directs flights to big cities within the region.

At the meeting, the ministers agreed to demonstrate three fields of cooperation namely further joint efforts in the battle against Covid-19; post-pandemic economic recovery through transport connection, digital transformation, tourism, manpower development, and cultural exchange; and management of water resources.

India seeks multi-dimensional engagement with the Mekong countries and the countries agreed to broaden their partnership by identifying newer areas of cooperation.

Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son at the event. 

Speaking at the meeting, Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son expressed Vietnam’s commitments to forging the MGC and called on a further cooperation for peace, prosperity, and development in the region.

He proposed some fields of cooperation, such as joint efforts in the health sector through vaccine production and distribution; supply of antibiotics and medical equipment; improving qualifications of health workers and public health systems.

Son called for efforts to promote sustainable recovery plans by facilitating trade and investment, supply chains, a stable business environment, and infrastructure connectivity.

The minister highlighted the importance of digital application; sustainable management of water resources through experience sharing and technology transfer; better early warning and natural disaster monitoring; and further cooperation between the Mekong River Commission and the Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies (cGanga).

The Mekong–Ganga Cooperation (MGC) was established on November 10, 2000 in Vientiane, Laos with an aim to take collective action towards inclusive regional socio-economic development and strengthening the bondage of friendship among the people of the region. It stands on a strong foundation of shared geographical, historical, and civilizational ties between six countries.