ASEAN makes progress in cooperation to narrow development gap hinh anh 1Participants in the 53rd meeting of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Task Force (Photo: Vietnam’s permanent mission to ASEAN)

Jakarta (VNA) – Cooperation to narrow the gap of development in ASEAN has gained positive strides recently, members of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Task Force said at their 53rd meeting at the ASEAN Secretariat’s headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, last weekend.

According to Vietnam’s permanent mission to ASEAN, the implementation of the IAI Work Plan III since the beginning of 2017 has reeled in encouraging outcomes in terms of both quantity and quality.

By the end of September, 11 of the 26 cooperation lines and six support areas had been carried out through 22 projects worth 8.28 million USD in total.

In the five prioritised fields under the work plan, IAI projects have focused on dealing with problems facing Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) such as agricultural product safety, post-harvest loss reduction, e-commerce development, building policy framework to attract FDI into small- and medium-sized enterprises, and English language training.

Notably, the monitoring and assessment of projects have been based on not only the project number or the funding, but also their meeting of concrete criteria for each cooperation lines.

The CLMV countries have also played a more active role in building projects matching local demand. Ten of the 13 new IAI projects which are being designed or about to begin were proposed by specialised agencies of the CLMV nations.

The Vietnamese mission said supporting development gap reduction in ASEAN is also a priority of the bloc’s partners which have vowed to sponsor 7.38 million USD for 11 projects under the IAI Work Plan III.

As the head of the IAI Task Force in 2017 – the first year of the IAI Work Plan III implementation, Vietnam has coordinated with other countries to synchronously take multiple measures to facilitate the work.

Since the start of the year, the Vietnamese mission chaired three regular meetings of the IAI Task Force to discuss ways to step up the work plan implementation. It has also made use of tens of other meetings between ASEAN and partners to introduce the IAI, added the IAI-related content to the bloc’s cooperation programmes and plans with partners, and worked to mobilise funding for IAI and relevant projects.

The mission has also suggested various measures in order to improve coordination and sense of responsibility of the CLMV’s specialised agencies in the IAI implementation.

Adopted at the 28th ASEAN Summit in September 2016, the IAI Work Plan III specifies five priorities for cooperation in development gap narrowing between 2016-2020, namely food and agriculture; trade facilitation; micro, small and medium enterprises; education; and health and well-being.-VNA