Thailand Proposes “Advancement of Three Futures” for Mekong-Lancang Cooperation

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Srettha Thavisin has proposed the “Advancement of Three Futures” to support the realization of the common goal of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC).

The proposal was made at the fourth MLC Leaders’ Meeting, held via a videoconference on 25 December 2023, under the theme “Join Hands on the Building of a Community of Shared Future and Modernization among Mekong-Lancang Countries.” Government Spokesperson Chai Wacharonke gave the following details on the proposal.

First, MLC needs to step up cooperation in physical connectivity, and enhance investment cooperation in infrastructure projects in the subregion and the region. MLC should also further build on the connectivity networks under the Belt and Road Initiative, the Mekong-Lancang Economic Development Belt, and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor to link with the subregion.

In view of this, the Thai government places high priority on upgrading infrastructure to connect Thailand with the broader region. The “Landbridge” project is at the heart of the country’s infrastructure grand strategy to connect the Gulf of Thailand with the Indian Ocean. The project will offer a gateway to global markets and value chains for the subregion. Thailand would welcome China’s participation and investment in this project.

At the same time, Thailand is committed to expediting the construction of the Thailand-China High-Speed Rail project to connect with the China-Laos Railway, and enhancing economic connectivity by facilitating border and cross-border trade. One-stop services have to be provided, and common control areas need to be built. Seamless cross-border trade will help to speed up the transportation of agricultural products and boost economic development in the border areas.

Second, Mekong-Lancang countries need concerted efforts to solve non-traditional security issues, particularly transnational crime, human trafficking, telecom fraud, and online scams, to protect the lives and property of their peoples, as well as for national security. Furthermore, MLC countries need to tackle transboundary haze pollution by developing a clean air initiative under MLC to safeguard the health and well-being of the people, and to put more efforts in mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change to ensure food, energy, water, and human security. MLC should also enhance cooperation in water resources management through coordination between the Mekong-Lancang Water Resources Cooperation Center and the Mekong River Commission Secretariat.

Third is to create new growth opportunities. Thailand supports the development of the MLC innovation corridor to build an eco-system conducive to innovation, sustainable growth, and green transformation. The Prime Minister reaffirmed Thailand’s pledge made during the UN General Assembly High-Level Week in 2023 in scaling up efforts to enhance technology development for the attainment of SDGs and enhancement of climate actions. MLC should also aim at doubling the number of intra-MLC tourists in the next two years to the number in the pre-COVID period, and do more to promote intra-regional tourism. Priority must also be placed on the safety and consular protection of tourists.

The fourth MLC Leaders’ Meeting adopted three outcome documents: (1) Nay Pyi Taw Declaration, (2) Five-Year Plan of Action on Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (2023-2027), and (3) Joint Initiatives on the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Innovation Corridor Development.

MLC has six member countries, namely Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. 

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