Top leaders from Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam have expressed concerns over severe drought in the region over the last years when they gathered for the 9th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Summit held on December 9.
|Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the 9th ACMECS. Photo: MOFA|
The drought, mostly in 2019 and 2020, have resulted in the record low of water level on Mekong River, causing breaks in the food supply chain, affecting the ecosystem, agriculture, and aquaculture in the sub-region, reported at the virtual summit hosted by Cambodia.
The Mekong is the longest river in Southeast Asia, 7th longest in Asia, and 12th longest in the world. Meanwhile, Ayeyawady or Ayeyarwady River flows from north to south through Myanmar, being the largest and most important commercial waterways in the country; Chao Phraya River is a principal river of Thailand flowing south through the nation’s fertile central plain for more than 225 miles (365 km) to the Gulf of Thailand.
Themed “Partnership for Connectivity and Resilience”, the leaders were determined to promote efforts for environment protection, development of smart agriculture, sustainable management of Mekong River, natural disasters, and climate change.
They called for more joint efforts for Covid-19 response and economic recovery that includes the resumption of supply chain, trade and investment, industry and tourism, digital economy, e-commerce, and human resource development among ACMECS member countries.
The leaders highlighted the participation of partnering countries, international organizations, and private sector in implementing three-pillar economic cooperation in ACMECS and in activating ACMECS development fund.
To make the operation of ACMECS effective, the participants stressed the need to link ACMECS with ASEAN and related sub-region cooperation mechanisms.
|Key pillars of ACMECS cooperation. Source: Thailan's MOFA|
Speaking at the summit, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc emphasized the cooperation among five Mekong nations in speeding up socio-economic development towards competitive, active, and sustainable economies.
PM Phuc noted the importance of curbing Covid-19, conducting recovery plans, and promoting strategic linkage between Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.
To make the targets possible, participating countries need to ensure smooth connection within the sub-region, mostly in transport, trade, and investment along economic corridors; development of border infrastructure; and implementation of bilateral and multilateral agreements.
Smart and sustainable agriculture will be effective to form Mekong agricultural supply chain for further global integration. In addition, intensive cooperation in environment protection, natural resource management, and climate resilience will be one of the central points.
The summit concluded with the ratification of the Phnom Penh Declaration on 9th ACMECS Summit.
Laos will host the 10th ACMECS Summit in the next two years.
ACMECS, comprising Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, was originally initiated by Thailand to serve as a cooperation framework to bridge the economic gap among the member countries and to promote the sub-regional prosperity withstanding diversified economic capabilities.
ACMECS has five cooperation partners namely the US, China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Australia.
The fields of cooperation include trade and investment, agriculture, industry and energy, transport linkages, tourism, health, environment, and human resource development.