Aug 06, 2019 / 12:01

Vietnam cares for Mekong issues at ASEAN meetings

Mekong River plays a crucial role in economic connectivity among the countries which the river flows through.

Vietnam has shown great care for issues in Mekong region within the framework of the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-52) in Bangkok, Thailand last week. 
Ministers at the 12th Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial Meeting in Thailand. Photo: Thailand's MFA
Ministers at the 12th Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial Meeting in Thailand. Photo: Thailand's MFA
On August 1, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh attended two events which both focused on water security and the role of the Mekong River in countries where the river goes by. 

The first event titled the 10th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) Ministerial Meeting was co-chaired by the Vietnamese top diplomat and Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

The meeting, which marked the attendance of foreign ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand, aims to boost economics among some Southeast Asian countries and India, the Vietnam News Agency reported. 

The event also covered trade and investment facilitation via removal of trade barriers; cooperation in customs clearance, quarantine and regional supply chain development; sustainable water resources management, especially collecting and monitoring water resources data, underground water management, climate change adaptation, flooding and drought control.

At the meeting, the related countries adopted the MGC action plan for the 2019-2022 period which features new cooperation areas such as water resources management, science-technology, capacity improvement and skills development.

They vowed to continue partnership in agriculture, aquaculture, healthcare, trade, culture, and tourism.

Over the past years, the MGC Quick Impact Projects Fund offered financial assistance to 24 projects in the Mekong nations, including nine in Vietnam.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of MGC by 2020, Minh suggested giving priority to strengthening connectivity, especially the expanding of the East - West Economic Corridor to India – Myanmar – Thailand expressway leading to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, the Southern Economic Corridor leading to India via roads, and sea routes.

On the same day, the Vietnamese top diplomat attended the 12th Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial Meeting co-chaired by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai. 

The meeting saw the attendance of foreign ministers from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam as well as the ASEAN Secretary General, according to the Nhan Dan newspaper.

The ministers lauded the US’s initiative to incorporate LMI’s projects which meet the need of localities.
The LMI improves the Mekong countries’ capacity to sustainably manage water resources, boosts agriculture-reliant economy, develops the regional energy market, builds science-tech training network, copes with natural disasters and epidemics, empowers women, and upgrades infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the launch of the Mekong Water Data Initiative (MWDI) and the Mekong River Commission (MRC) helps promote the sharing of data in service of forecasting and policymaking.

To deal with trans-border challenges and boosting sustainable regional development, the ministers agreed to enhance inclusiveness, centrality and effectiveness of LMI.

They vowed to continue supporting MRC’s activities, enhance information sharing and coordination between LMI and partners in the Friends of the Lower Mekong (FLM), and back the Ayeyawady - Chao Phraya - Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy and other cooperation mechanisms among Mekong countries.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed that the Japan-US Mekong Power Partnership will be established to help the Mekong countries ensure sustainable energy security.

Speaking at the event, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh welcomed the US’s contributions to regional development via LMI and LMI’s comprehensive approaches, and expressed support for the restoration of FLM mechanism.