Foreign minister affirms Vietnam’s commitments to Mekong-Ganga Cooperation

Thursday, 2021-07-22 09:53:41
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Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son at the event (Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
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NDO/VNA – Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son has affirmed Vietnam’s commitments to the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC), saying that countries need to further uphold the potential of the mechanism to contribute to peace, prosperity and sustainable development in the region.

He was speaking at the 11th MGC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that was held virtually on July 21.

Marking the 20th anniversary of the MGC, the event reviewed two decades of regional cooperation and discussed opportunities, challenges as well as orientations for the next period.

In his speech, FM Son proposed bolstering medical coordination via the research, production and distribution of vaccines, supply of antibiotics and medical equipment, improving the quality of medical staff and community-based medical system.

Further attention should be paid to promoting sustainable and inclusive economic recovery via facilitating trade and investment, ensuring regional supply chain, maintaining a stable business environment, promoting trade promotion programmes, and boosting infrastructure connectivity, he said.

According to him, countries need to reinforce joint work in science-technology, innovation, digital technology and infrastructure; give priority to sustainable water resources management and climate change response via experience sharing and technological transfer, as well as improve the capacity of early forecasting and disaster management; and enhance cooperation between the Mekong River Commission and the National Ganga River Basin Authority.

Ministers spoke highly of the MGC’s achievements in priority cooperation fields of culture, tourism, education, public health and traditional medicine, water resources management, science-technology, transportation and information, capacity improvement and skill development.

Two-way trade between India and Mekong countries rose 25-fold to US$25 billion last year. Transport connectivity projects have been expanded, especially direct flights linking with the MGC’s major cities. Hundreds of scholarships and training courses have been provided for Mekong nations to develop human resources.

Progress was seen in collaboration in culture, heritage management and tourism. The Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) were launched with 68 projects worth US$3.4 million for the 2016-2020 period. India provided over US$2 billion in loans for projects regarding water resources development, infrastructure building and connectivity, digitalisation, rural electrification, irrigation and education in Mekong countries.

Ministers welcomed the MGC’s Plan of Action for the 2019-2022 period, with three new cooperation areas, including water resources management, science-technology, capacity improvement and skill development.

Participants agreed to enhance collaboration in COVID-19 prevention and control, especially in the research, production and distribution of vaccines and antibiotics.

They pledged to improve the capacity of preventing and controlling diseases, promote collaboration in traditional medicine, recover the economy post pandemic via facilitating trade, transport connectivity, technology, digital transformation, tourism, human resources training and development, cultural exchange, and connecting the MGC with regional connectivity initiatives.

Concluding the event, countries adopted a Joint Statement and agreed to hold the next meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting next year.