The Deputy Foreign Ministers of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand discussed the progress and challenges in implementing the cross-border Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) transport agreement for the East West Economic Corridor (EWEC) at a conference in central Quang Tri province on May 18.

At the Deputy Foreign Ministerial Conference of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand on the EWEC, the three countries’ delegations suggested regional governments further strengthen their friendship and cooperation, thus facilitating the development of the economic corridor.

Head of the Vietnamese delegation Deputy FM Ho Xuan Son, who chaired the conference, highlighted the attendance of representatives of the Japanese Embassy in Hanoi , the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) which, he said, reflected their commitment and active role in promoting the development of the EWEC.

The conference adopted a joint statement recording numerous tourism, environmental and social projects completed after one decade of development. The statement hailed the three countries’ efforts in boosting transport and trade along the corridor. It also highlighted the corridor’s role in enhancing regional connectivity, reducing travel time and cost and increasing trade and investment in the region.

However, the delegates said difficulties remained for goods and passenger transport along the corridor, limited investment in regional production and service sectors, a lack of infrastructure and slow paperwork.

The conference called on partners and the private sector to become actively involved and closely coordinate with EWEC countries in developing the economic corridor and settling existing difficulties and challenges.

To enhance coordination among EWEC countries, they agreed to organise the annual deputy ministerial conference in rotation and establish a dialogue mechanism among the three provinces of Mucdahan ( Thailand ), Savannakhet ( Laos ) and Quang Tri ( Vietnam ). The first conference of the three provinces is scheduled to take place in Mucdahan province late this year.

The EWEC is one of three initiatives on the economic corridor in the cooperative framework of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) initiated by the ADB and Japan .

This economic corridor runs through four countries, including Myanmar , and connects the Andaman Sea and the East Sea.-VNA