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Thailand Proposes Four Approaches to Strengthen Mekong - Lancang Cooperation

9 June 2021 (Readers 211)

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai has proposed four approaches to strengthen Mekong Lancang Cooperation (MLC).

The proposal was made on 8 June 2021 at the Sixth MLC Foreign Ministers Meeting in Chongqing, China, under the theme of "Solidarity Against COVID-19, Joint Efforts for Post-Pandemic Development. The four approaches are as follows:

(1) Public health, especially on the equitable access to vaccines by all;

(2) Post-COVID-19 recovery. The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister suggested enhancing cooperation on Bio-Circular-Green economy (BCG), which is an economic model that is innovation-driven, value-creating and environmentally friendly. As Thailands national agenda, BCG focuses on four major industries, including food and agriculture, energy and materials, health and medicine, and tourism and services. They are also the industries in which MLC member countries have comparative advantages;

(3) Promoting linkages between the special economic zones in border areas and development of innovation corridors to support SEZs and BCG industries. This includes the promotion of digital transformation to help build capacity and resilience for the MLC government agencies and businesses to cope with the New Normal environment in a sustainable manner; and

(4) Emphasizing the importance of water resources on the livelihood of people living along the Mekong River. The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister urged all MLC member countries to redouble the efforts to promote practical cooperation and sustainable management of transboundary waters. Particularly, he stressed that MLC member countries should enhance collaboration on information sharing and early warning system on water level changes so the people downstream could make necessary preparation in time to cope with the consequences. Such cooperation will help strengthen the mutual trust and confidence among the MLC family and garner public support for MLC.

The Meeting adopted three outcome documents: (1) Initiative on Deepening Cooperation among Local Governments of Lancang - Mekong Countries; (2) Joint Statement on Enhancing Sustainable Development Cooperation of the Lancang - Mekong Countries; and (3) Joint Statement on Deepening Cooperation on Traditional Medicine Within the Framework of Lancang - Mekong Cooperation.

The establishment of MLC was suggested by Thailand in 2012 with a view to promoting sustainable development and narrowing development gap in the Mekong - Lancang sub-region. MLC is consisted of China, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The First MLC Foreign Ministers Meeting and the First MLC Summit were held in November 2015 and March 2016 respectively.

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