Webinar strengthens post-COVID-19 Mekong-Ganga Cooperation hinh anh 1Secretary (East) of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Ganguly Das speaks at the webinar (Photo: VNA)

New Delhi (VNA) -  An international webinar on "20 Years of Mekong-Ganga Cooperation" took place in New Delhi, India on November 5-6 to review the achievements of the MCG Cooperation in the past two decades and build a strategy to strengthen this initiative in the next 10 years, especially the post-COVID-19 period.

The event was jointly held by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS).

The webinar brought together many prestigious experts, scholars, policy makers, representatives of trade promotion organisations and associations, and businesses from India and ASEAN countries. It included six discussions on general topics such as international relations and more specific issues like connectivity and trade.

The MCG Cooperation was launched in 2000 in Vientiane, Laos during the first MGC ministerial meeting, focusing on cooperation in the areas of tourism, culture, education, and transport. carriage. Since its inception, India's trade with the countries in the Mekong sub-region has increased 25 fold in two decades, from 1 billion USD in 2000 to 25 billion USD last year.

Now, their areas of cooperation have been expanded to include health care and traditional medicine, agriculture and related industries, irrigation, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and science and technology, skills development and capacity building.
According to speakers at the event, the MCG initiative is witnessing adjustments and adaptations as well as new factors in the relationship between the two sides. The current dynamics in the region and the rapidly changing international environment are bringing in new ideas and various challenges. Therefore, the MCG countries need to actively work together to address pressing transnational issues.

Secretary (East) of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Ganguly Das said the COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the world, causing an unprecedented crisis. Forums like this webinar can play a big role in making radical decisions and recommendations to counter the negative effects of the pandemic and build next steps.

She also announced that a series of cooperation initiatives between the two sides are now running well, such as the Quick Impact Projects (QIP), scholarships for MGC students at Indian facilities, and establishment of high quality software development and training centres in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. She affirmed that the centre in Vietnam will be completed soon.

According to her, infrastructure development and connectivity are key areas of cooperation between India and the Mekong countries. India has provided credit packages totaling 580 million USD for the Mekong countries to implement a series of projects in such fields as hydropower, digital connectivity, rural electrification, irrigation, electricity transmission networks, and construction of educational institutions.

India is making efforts to soon put the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral road into operation, and is also considering a Lao proposal to extend this route./.