PANO – The 7th ACMECS (ACMECS 7) and the 8th CLMV (CLMV 8) summits held in Hanoi on October 26, determined that the Mekong sub-region is standing great opportunities for economic development and that Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar need to firmly grasp these opportunities to build a dynamic and prosperous region.

Vietnam attaches special importance to ACMECS and CLMV cooperation

The summits were attended by Vietnamese Prime Minister (PM) Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Lao PM Thongloun Sisoulith, Cambodian PM Hunsen, Myanmar President Htin Kyaw, Thai Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak, UN Under Secretary General Shamshad Akhtar, and ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh.

Overview of the 8th CLMV summit. Photo: VNA

Addressing the opening ceremony, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc emphasized that after more than a decade of operation, CLMV and ACMECS cooperation has gained important achievements, contributing to the socio-economic development of each country and the building of an ASEAN Community, strengthening neighborliness, peace and stability in the region. Countries in the Mekong region have formed an important driving force for the economy of the Southeast Asia region, one of the most dynamically developing regions in the world. The above achievements, said the Vietnamese PM, partly resulted from the high determination and efforts of the five Mekong region countries of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar as well as the tremendous support, effective cooperation of partners and international donors, especially other ASEAN member countries. Noting that CLMV and ACMECS are enjoying favorable opportunities for development, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc said that Vietnam's Government attaches special importance to CLMV and ACMECS cooperation, ready to closely coordinate with member countries and development partners for peace, stability, sustainable development and common prosperity of the region.

Partners’ commitments towards the Mekong sub-region

Cambodian PM Hunsen, in his speech, held that the organization of CLMV and ACMECS summits affirmed the countries’ determination to consolidate the fine traditional neighborliness for each other’s benefits. Promoting cooperation in these two mechanisms not only pinpoints the importance of cooperation set out in the sub-region cooperation strategy, but also contributes to the connectivity of ASEAN and the construction of the ASEAN Community, especially in narrowing the development gap within the region, increasing social welfare and improving people’s living standard.

Lao PM Thongloun Sisoulith said that within the framework of CLMV and ACMECS, many priority projects have been effectively and proactively implemented in infrastructure construction, contributing to the region’s connectivity. However, there still remain challenges and difficulties in the implementation of the development goal of the Mekong region. Therefore, cooperation should be strengthened to solve problems and overcome obstacles and possibly mobilize resources for the implementation of projects within CLMV and ACMECS. “The private sector serves as an important driving force for countries to implement the goals of cooperation, development and integration,” added PM Thongloun Sisoulith.

Myanmar President Htin Kyaw held that unity is the power to overcome challenges that a single country cannot do on its own. He said cooperation is a very important factor to cope with regional and global changes.

According to Thai Deputy PM, the cooperation mechanisms in the Mekong sub-region like ACMECS and CLMV reflect the economic dynamism of the region, proving that Asia-Pacific is an emerging and important region with global influence.

ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh believed that the mechanisms like ACMECS and CLMV make an indispensable element for the regional integration to build an ASEAN Community towards the people and for the people. The ASEAN Secretary General also noted the need to narrow the development gap among ASEAN member countries and further strengthen cooperation in the region.

For her part, UN Under Secretary General Shamshad Akhtar hailed the development of the Mekong region countries and affirmed that the United Nations will continue to cooperate with the Mekong region to reach for the goal of sustainable development. The representative of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) also confirmed the bank’s support for the Mekong countries to narrow the gap of infrastructure and private investment development among countries.

Challenges still in place

Besides advantages such as its strategic geo-economics, large labor force, competitive prices, abundant natural resources, the Mekong region also faces challenges such as resource constraint, backward infrastructure, impacts of climate change, economic instability, vulnerability of small and open economies. To maintain the momentum for growth and improve competitiveness, leaders at the summits agreed to implement economic reforms in their countries, maintain macroeconomic stability and create a favorable business environment, while integrating more deeply into the regional and global economy. They also agreed to implement specific measures to strengthen the connectivity of the economies of the four countries.

ACMECS 7 summit focused on measures to promote socio-economic development, increase competitiveness for member economies, enhance regional economic integration and set forth cooperation orientation for sustainable development in the Mekong region. Noting the achievements of ACMECS cooperation in recent years, the ACMECS leaders also pointed out that the Mekong region are facing various difficulties and challenges in ensuring finance for development projects, response to climate change, natural disasters and environmental protection.

The ACMECS 7 and CLMV 8 summits were attended by more representatives than ever before, especially by representatives of development partners who have committed to continue supporting CLMV countries with resources.

At the end of the summits, leaders of countries adopted joint statements and agreed that the ACMECS 8 and CLMV 9 summits will be held by Thailand and Cambodia in 2018, respectively.

Translated by Huu Duong

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