The 24th GMS Ministerial Conference (MC-24) was held on 4 November 2020 with the theme “Pave the way to a more integrated, inclusive, sustainable and prosperous GMS.” Mr. Liu Kun, Minister, Ministry of Finance, People’s Republic of China (PRC), gave the opening address. Ms. Jiayi Zou, Vice Minister, Ministry of Finance, PRC, chaired the virtual conference. Mr. Ahmed M. Saeed, Vice President, Asian Development Bank (ADB), served as meeting cochair.
GMS Ministers and Senior Officials of Cambodia, PRC, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam attended the MC-24. ADB staff, development partners, and the private sector were also represented. The GMS Ministerial Conference is held annually and it provides policy direction and oversight for the GMS program in identifying and implementing results-oriented subregional cooperation initiatives.
The MC-24 took note of the (i) GMS countries’ immediate responses to the challenges presented by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic; (ii) actions taken and achievements made under GMS cooperation mechanisms in response to the pandemic, particularly in the most vulnerable sectors—health, agriculture, environment, transport and trade facilitation, and tourism; (iii) progress and outcomes in other sectors of cooperation; and (iv) key elements of strategic documents to be presented to the GMS Leaders at the 7th Summit in March 2021—the proposed GMS Economic Cooperation Program Strategic Framework 2030 (GMS-2030) and the GMS COVID-19 Response and Recovery Plan 2021-2023.
The GMS Ministers were also briefed on the report and recommendations of the GMS Senior Officials’ Meeting; the outcomes of the GMS 11th Economic Corridors’ Forum; and the discussions of the GMS Development Partners’ Meeting.
The MC-24 declared the endorsement of the GMS Regional Investment Framework 2022: Third Progress Report and Update, and the notation of (i) the proposed establishment of a “Task Force on Labor Migration in the GMS”; (ii) report of the Pilot Study on Section-Specific Planning for the GMS North-South Economic Corridor in Myanmar and the PRC, and (iii) report of the Greater Mekong Subregion 2030 and Beyond: Integration, Upgrading, Cities, and Connectivity study.
The MC-24 acknowledged a report from the GMS Business Council (BC), which continued to address activities specified in the GMS Strategic Framework 2012-2022 and the Ha Noi Action Plan 2018-2022. Key elements of the GMS-BC Private Sector Strategic Action Plan 2018–2020 aims to achieve economic integration and the development and promotion of the private sector; promotion of investment in agriculture, processing industry, tourism and urban development; promotion of SME/MSMEs; and human resources development.
The MC-24 also discussed the key findings and recommendations of the study, the Greater Mekong Subregion 2030 and Beyond: Integration, Upgrading Cities and Connectivity, which was undertaken by a team of experts led by ADB’s Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department. This study aims to help guide the subregion’s development efforts and ensure that GMS countries are addressing the right challenges and taking advantage of new opportunities in the new and dynamic regional and global context.
The MC-24 discussed forthcoming plans for the 7th GMS Summit to be held on 25 March 2021. The theme for the Summit is “GMS: Renewed Strength to Face the Challenges of the New Decade.”
In closing, the GMS Ministers issued a Joint Ministerial Statement which stresses the subregion’s resilience, highlights the key role of GMS cooperation in the midst of the pandemic, and looks toward continued cooperation in the future.