The ASEAN Forum on Subregional Development discussed measures to link Mekong subregional cooperation programs with the ASEAN and other subregional groupings to achieve the common goal of narrowing development gaps and to build a stronger ASEAN community. The forum tackled solutions to promote coordination and connectivity among economic corridors in the region. Countries and involved parties were enjoined to work together on policies and mechanisms to address border gate issues.
Mr. Alfredo Perdiguero, Director, Southeast Asia Department, Asian Development Bank (ADB), and Mr. Keiju Mitsuhashi, Deputy Country Director, ADB Viet Nam Resident Mission, delivered a presentation on ADB support for ASEAN Connectivity Plans through the development of transport and economic corridors in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), and Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) subregions
The ADB presentation highlighted GMS achievements in transport, such as (i) completion of all key highways along the GMS corridors; (ii) construction, upgrading, or improvement of around 11,000 km of roads; (iii) completion of all major bridges; and (iv) construction of around 500 km of railways. Furthermore, it emphasized the importance of transforming transport corridors into economic corridors to boost cross-border trade and investment, and to stimulate jobs and growth. Subregional economic corridors are envisaged to become a network of corridors in the ASEAN.
In addition, Mr. Mitsuhashi also raised the importance of digital connectivity as complement to physical connectivity amidst the COVID-19 health crisis. GMS countries recognize the importance of ICT investments to improve productivity and efficiency, build knowledge-based economies, and reduce poverty.