Countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) have endorsed measures to expedite and expand cross border transport and trade, including stepping up bilateral and trilateral country agreements, according to the Asian Development Bank, a key development partner of the GMS.

The ADB said in a press release on Nov. 22 that GMS transport ministers endorsed a three-year action plan (2013 to 2016) to support implementation of the next phase of transport and trade facilitation measures at the 4 th Joint Committee Meeting for the GMS Cross Border Transport Agreement (CBTA) in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar .

This pioneering transport agreement, ratified in 2003, provides a blueprint for non-physical measures needed to boost cross border land transport, including ‘single stop’ customs inspections.

The GMS, with strong support from development partners, including ADB and Australian Aid, has made significant headway since 2010 with bilateral transport and traffic rights agreements; agreement on the extension of the East-West Economic Corridor to include key capitals and deep sea ports; and the launching of a transport and trade facilitation knowledge portal.

The three-year action plan targets swifter implementation of bilateral traffic rights agreements between China and Myanmar and Myanmar and Thailand, trilateral agreements among China, Laos and Thailand, as well as Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.

It will also aim to expand transport and trade routes, increase transport permit quotas under traffic rights exchanges, further streamline and improve customs procedures, and encourage the establishment of cross border vehicle insurance mechanisms.

GMS members include Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Yunnan province and the Guangxi autonomous region in China.