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Remarks by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the 7th Greater Mekong Subregion Summit

VGP - Below are full remarks by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the 7th Greater Mekong Subregion Summit held virtually on September 9.

September 09, 2021 6:30 PM GMT+7

Your Excellency Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia,

Your Excellency Masatsugu Asakawa, President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB),

Esteemed GMS Leaders,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure for me to attend and deliver my remarks at the 7th Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Summit. On behalf of the Government of Viet Nam, I would like to extend to all Leaders and delegates my warmest regards and best wishes.

I highly appreciate the thoughtful arrangements made by the host country Cambodia and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for this virtual Summit. Particularly, I welcome the presense of representatives from 31 international organizations and development partners as well as the business communities in and outside the region. Your participation is a clear indication of your keen interest, the important role of Cambodia and the development potential of the Mekong region.

This Summit takes place amid unprecedented developments in the global and regional landscape. The COVID-19 pandemic and non-traditional security challenges such as climate change, depletion of natural resources, and aging population, have been exerting far-reaching impacts on all aspects of social life and all countries. This presents us with difficulties, but also opportunities for GMS members to demonstrate their efforts, determination, and solidarity in advancing cooperation and development. We fully endorse the Summit’s theme: “Renewed Strength to Face the Challenges of the New Decade”. We must not only face these challenges but also effectively respond to them.

Ladies and gentlemen,

3. The Greater Mekong Subregion plays a strategic role in the process of international integration and robust economic growth of Asia. This is where the first successful model for subregional cooperation in the Asian continent was introduced, and serves as the bridge between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and the gateway linking China with ASEAN countries.

Over the past three decades, GMS cooperation, with the participation of all countries in the Mekong River Basin, has constantly expanded, proving its unique credibility and identity. The implementation of the 3C strategies, namely “Connectivity, Community, and Competitiveness,” helped create a GMS region where seamless connectivity was enhanced, people-to-people bonds were strengthened, and collaboration to address the common concerns of the region was advanced. We have achieved encouraging results in the implementation of the Hanoi Action Plan 2018-2022. Notably, I commend the GMS’ prompt efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, improve the public healthcare system and assist the member economies in gradual economic recovery.

The achievements of GMS cooperation effectively reinforced the ASEAN Community-building and the shaping of an ASEAN-centered regional architecture, and further deepened the thriving ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership. We need to uphold multilateralism and cooperation based on equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit, thus contributing to peace, stability, cooperation, and development in the region and the world at large.

 Let me take this opportunity to sincerely thank the ADB and development partners for the invaluable assistance, effective coordination, and efforts to galvanize resources for cooperation programs within GMS and with member countries, including Viet Nam.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is essential for us to come up with strategic vision and solutions to substantively address urgent issues, while laying the foundation for rapid, sustainable, safe, inclusive, and comprehensive development in the next decade. With that in mind, I welcome the GMS Economic Cooperation Program Strategic Framework 2030 and the GMS COVID-19 Response and Recovery Plan 2021-2023.

As neighboring countries bonded together by mountains and rivers, sharing the  legendary Mekong River, enjoying time-honored cultures and histories, close friendships and warm brotherly ties, GMS countries have a common interest and responsibility to join hands in addressing the common challenges of the region and support each other for shared development. While national efforts are the decisive factor, international cooperation is crucial to create breakthroughs. President Ho Chi Minh, the hero of national liberation and great man of culture, once said:“Unity makes strength”. The more challenges we face, the more we must stand united and and support each other to rise above them and jointly create the mettle, reputation, brand and long-lasting values of the GMS. At the same time, political trust and cooperation based on the principles of equality, consensus, mutual benefit, effectiveness and respect for international law will continue to be the prerequisite for GMS success.

On that note, I suggest that in the coming period, GMS cooperation should focus on the following six priorities:

First, prevent, reverse and control the pandemic. As the pandemic rages on, no one is safe while others remain infected with COVID-19, and no nation is safe while others still have to grapple with COVID-19. This is the time for us to step up close and effective cooperation to repel and contain the pandemic, while forming mechanisms in response to future communicable diseases. For the time being, it is important to promote access to Covid-19 vaccines and treatment drugs in an open, equitable and transparent manner, increase the sharing of vaccines through multilateral and bilateral mechanisms, and accelerate technology transfer to gain self-reliance in regional production of vaccines and treatment drugs for various diseases. Viet Nam is working to achieve full vaccine coverage as soon as possible. Our government always considers the people’s health and lives our highest priority. Thus, I request the ADB to study the possibility of more flexible financing mechanisms to provide emergency assistance for countries to purchase vaccines, anti-viral drugs, and medical supplies, and help businesses from the GMS countries to quickly establish production lines of high-quality vaccines and treatment drugs. On this occasion, I would like to thank vaccine manufacturing countries, including China, for the assistance extended to other countries, including Viet Nam. Your support is invaluable amid the global vaccine shortage. I look forward to the continuation of such effort.

Second, prevent the disruption of regional supply chains amid the pandemic. It is essential to harmonize and simplify the process and procedures for customs clearance, and open “green lanes” in order to facilitate the cross-border movement of people and flow of goods, while meeting pandemic prevention requirements. I urge countries to refrain from imposing trade barriers and facilitate the movement of people and essential goods in line with our GMS commitments.

Third, create breakthroughs in building coherent and high-quality infrastructure, particularly in transport and energy, to address bottlenecks in development and enhance the competitiveness of the economy. On transport, we need to pursue the goal to complete the GMS transport, border gate and seaport   network, with priorities given to the East-West and North-South economic corridors connecting the region’s major economic hubs, and multimodal transport links between the seaport and waterway transport system with the land and railway network in the GMS. A typical example of which is the Viet Nam - Laos cooperation project on developing Vung Ang Port. On energy, efforts should be directed to renewable energy projects and regional electricity market development. GMS countries should study appropriate models and roadmaps for low-carbon energy transition. We also need to build capacity for cross-border power trading, operation of integrated power grids, and development of power infrastructure with the support of the ABD and development partners.

Fourth, promote digital transformation and the digital economy to create new drivers for economic recovery and growth and narrowing development gaps. Along with cooperation in digital infrastructure development, GMS countries need to: (i) advance cross-border e-commerce on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, thus promoting export, particularly the export of seasonal agricultural products. We need to increase dialogue on e-commerce and digital trade, and harness digital technology to accelerate post-pandemic recovery, particularly in trade and services. We should also (ii) enhance digital skills for businesses and workers; and (iii) work together to develop suitable legal frameworks for the rapid, healthy, oriented, effective and harmonious development of the digital economy for the common interest of the entire society.

Fifth, realize a green and safe GMS that effectively adapts to climate change. The Greater Mekong Subregion is faced with increasingly serious floods, droughts and saline intrusion. The GMS must become a role model for regional cooperation on green, safe, sustainable, and inclusive growth. We must work together to build a cooperation framework with a comprehensive roadmap and creative and concrete measures. Accordingly, our urgent need is to enhance climate change adaptation, disaster risk mitigation and cooperation in the sustainable management, development and use of rivers in the region, especially the Mekong River, in accordance with the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Sixth, bolster the coordination between GMS and ASEAN, and other regional cooperation mechanisms, regional FTAs such as RCEP and agreements between ASEAN and partners, including China. We should encourage the engagement of development partners and the business community so that GMS cooperation can truly deliver tangible benefits to the people and businesses, and contribute to the development of each nation, the region and the world. On that note, I propose the organization of an annual GMS High-level Development Forum with the participation of GMS countries and development partners to review GMS cooperation and attract more resources and inputs from development partners.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Viet Nam always attaches importance to GMS cooperation and desires to strengthen the traditional friendship and cooperation with our brotherly neighbors, and join hands with you to build a more open, safe, peaceful, and prosperous Greater Mekong Subregion of sustainable development. As the founding member of GMS, Viet Nam remains committed to effectively contributing to the realization of GMS shared vision and goals.

It is our wish and firm conviction that given the identified strategic orientations, the determination of GMS governments, the support of the people and businesses, the companionship of the ADB and development partners, GMS cooperation will ever flourish, promoting the bond and mutual benefits among our peoples, and contributing to advancing peace and prosperity in the region.

Thank you for your attention.

I wish you all good health and the Summit great success./.