Regional conference promotes EWEC cooperation

The Deputy Foreign Ministerial Conference on the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) opened in Dong Ha City, Quang Tri province on May 18.

Present at the conference were deputy foreign ministers and provincial leaders from Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, and representatives from the Asia Development Bank (ADB), the Japanese Embassy in Hanoi, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Participants discussed developments and challenges in implementing the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Cross Border Transportation Agreement, policies and measures to facilitate EWEC operations. They underscored the need to strengthen friendship and cooperation for strong development of EWEC.

Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Ho Xuan Son said the participation of EWEC’s development partners, including the Japanese Embassy, ADB, JBIC and JICA, demonstrates their active role and long-term commitment to promoting EWEC development in the future.

The conference approved a joint declaration affirming that after a decade of development, EWEC has achieved many infrastructure targets. EWEC’s strategy and action plan adopted in 2009 has brought about significant results as many tourism, environmental and social infrastructure projects have been completed or underway.

But participants agreed that despite achievements, EWEC has failed to bring about the expected benefits. Limited investment in production and services and obstacles for transporting goods and people along the corridor remain. They pointed out difficulties that need to be dealt with in the fields of infrastructure, legal framework, transport, and cumbersome procedures at border gates and customs.

The conference also called on development partners and the private sector to closely coordinate with EWEC countries in developing EWEC and coping with current difficulties and challenges.

To strengthen coordination among EWEC countries, the conference agreed that three countries will take turns holding the annual event and establish a cooperative dialogue mechanism among Thailand’s Mucdaha province, Laos’ Savanakhet province and Vietnam’s Quang Tri province. Their first meeting will be held late this year in Mucdahan.