VN to host regional summits, WEF-Mekong in October

The 8th Summit of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam (CLMV), the 7th Summit of Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), and the World Economic Forum on Mekong (WEF-Mekong) will be held in Ha Noi on October 25-26.

The following is the translation of Deputy PM, FM Pham Binh Minh's article on the occasion of these multilateral diplomatic events.

CLMV and ACMECS cooperation

Southeast Asian countries have come a long way in building the ASEAN Community with the core values of solidarity, consensus and "unity in diversity". One of the major hurdles of this process is the development gap among member States, especially between the four countries of Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam (CLMV) and the rest of ASEAN member countries.

With the goal to narrow the development gap and accelerate CLMV integration into the development process of the region, senior leaders of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam organized the first summit on November 28, 2014 in Laos. The summit approved the Vientiane Declaration on enhancing cooperation and economic integration among CLMV countries, which affirmed the four countries' determination to cooperate for the common goal while calling on development partners and international organizations to join hands in fostering economic development and social progress in the Mekong region. The key sectors selected for cooperation include trade-investment, agriculture, industry, transport, tourism and human resource development.

The CLMV cooperation is the objective requirement of the ASEAN integration process. This is an open cooperation mechanism, which aims to promote the available advantages and potential of the member countries and serve as a channel to call for financial and technical support from other ASEAN countries and development partners. This also a forum for CLMV countries to coordinate their positions in order to protect their interests in the economic connectivity process of ASEAN as well as between ASEAN and foreign partners like the US, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the European Union.

Besides, CLMV countries and Thailand established the ACMECS mechanism with an overall aim to ensure peace, stability and prosperity. The central goal of ACMECS is to raise the competitiveness and spur growth in border areas, agricultural and industrial development in an effective manner, expand employment opportunities, and narrow income gap among the member countries. ACMECS cooperation focuses on eight priority fields: Trade-investment, agriculture, industry-energy, transport, tourism, human resources development, and healthcare and environment.

During the past 13 years of operation, CLMV and ACMECS cooperation has reaped positive achievements, contributing to consolidating peace and stability and strengthening economic, trade and investment cooperation among the Mekong countries, and narrow development gap in ASEAN. Thanks to extensive economic reforms and efforts in trade and investment liberation and facilitation, the Mekong region has become a dynamic development region and an important driving fore for ASEAN growth.

One of the key goals of CLMV and ACMECS mechanisms is to reap specific outcomes through projects and programs, including those on building and upgrading roads in the East-West Economic Corridor and the Southern Economic Corridor, singing and implementing several bilateral and multilateral agreements on transport, customs, immigration in order to facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and people, as well as scholarships and vocational training.

The ACMECS and CLMV are also important mechanisms for the Mekong countries to coordinate efforts in consolidating trust and hold dialogues to seek solutions to common challenges such as water resources, climate change and diseases, etc. on the basis of harmonization of interests of relevant parties. Enhanced cooperation and connectivity have also helped raise the role and voice of the Mekong countries in the regional and international integration process.

Despite a number of shortcomings, CLMV and ACMECS cooperation remains potential that needs to be further exploited. The immediate requirement should be selection of appropriate cooperation domains which are in accordance with the needs of each member country and enhanced coordination with other regional and sub-regional mechanisms.

Viet Nam's role in CLMV and ACMECS cooperation

As an active and responsible member, Viet Nam has made significant contributions to CLMV and ACMECS cooperation. As an Eastern gateway of the Mekong sub-region, Viet Nam is an indispensible factor of the East-West Economic Corridor and the Southern Economic Corridor. We have actively put forward and implemented several new ideas, contributed to the building of key legal documents, formed and promoted initiatives, offered development assistance to other member countries, including assistance in terms of human resource and infrastructure development.

Under the CLMV framework, Viet Nam established a scholarship fund to grant dozens of scholarships to students from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar each year. The fund has been appreciated by the beneficiary countries and recommended for further implementation in the period 2016-2020. In both CLMV and ACMECS frameworks, Viet Nam acts as the coordinator in some specialized cooperation areas and has deployed practical activities to beef up comprehensive cooperation among the five countries.

Being aware of the importance of using resources sustainably in the Mekong river basin, Viet Nam has actively accelerated environmental and water management cooperation. Viet Nam is the fist country to propose the idea of setting up a working group on environment under the ACMECS framework in which the country is co-chair.

Viet Nam has hosted several meetings of the specialized working groups and senior officials of the CLMV and ACMECS in 2016. With the hope to raise the effectiveness and quality of cooperation, Viet Nam has actively taken steps to help the working groups to be more professional and well coordinated. Viet Nam's efforts were welcomed by ACMECS and CLMV member countries and have been requested for further implementation in the coming time.

Future cooperation orientations

The Mekong region has entered a new development stage with both unprecedented opportunities and challenges. With sound policies and close coordination under the CLMV and ACMECS frameworks, potential and advantages, such as labor force, competitive prices, and strategic geo-economic location will be further optimized to ensure growth prospect of all the five Mekong countries.

Under the theme "Towards a dynamic and prosperous Mekong sub-region: Seizing opportunities, shaping the future", the 7th ACMECES Summit and the 8th CLMV Summit will provide an opportunity for leaders to review the implementation of the approved action plans and agree on measures in order to sharpen competitiveness of the member countries, accelerate regional integration, and cope with common challenges for the future of peace, prosperity in the Mekong Sub-region.

With the determination and efforts of the member countries, the two summits will open up a new chapter for Mekong region cooperation and contribute to sustainable development and prosperity in the region.

On the occasion, the WEF-Mekong will also be organized for the first time alongside with the summits of ACMECS and CLMV to promote the Mekong region's potential to the international business community. The WEF-Mekong will bring about new creative ideas and cooperation opportunities between the world's leading corporations and prestigious businesses of the region, thus contributing to luring investment for infrastructure and human resource development and enhancing connectivity in the Mekong region as well./.