Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) nations attach importance to economic cooperation along the southern economic corridor besides the East-West and North-South ones.

The statement was made by Cambodian Ministry of Trade Cham Prasidh at a GMS conference on developing the southern economic corridor, which took place in Phnom Penh on March 9-10. The conference was co-sponsored by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Australian Agency for International Development.

Boosting goods exchanges and development cooperation among localities and GMS countries is aimed at promoting the southern economic corridor, which runs through 41 provinces of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, and Yunnan and Guangxi provinces of China, he stressed.

Despite numerous progresses, there remains a big gap between this corridor and the East-West and North-South ones, he said.

According to the ADB, by the end of 2010, the bank had provided some 4.7 billion USD for 55 projects under the 11.5 billion USD GMS development cooperation programme.

Australia financed projects to develop the southern economic corridor with regional countries, especially marine economic development in Cambodia and Vietnam, with funding reaching 43.5 million USD.

Australia provided over 302 million USD for projects to upgrade rural infrastructure as well as improve people’s living standards and trade in GMS countries.

In 1992, with the ADB support, GMS countries put forth a subregional economic cooperation programme to strengthen their economic relations and cultural exchanges with nine areas of priority, including agriculture, energy, environment, human resource development, investment, telecommunication, tourism, transport and trade.

GMS includes Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. /.