Ministers from the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) called Tuesday for multi-sectoral investments for urban development, connecting remote areas with growth centres and extending existing corridors into Myanmar.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said the call was made in a joint statement by ministers attending a regional conference in the southern Chinese city of Nanning.
"The strategic framework has to be translated into a plan of action. It has to be supported by a well-considered investment programme," said Stephen Groff, the ADB vice president of operations for East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
Set up 20 years ago as an ADB initiative, the GMS comprises Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The ADB said the two-day meeting in Nanning was also attended by Australia, Japan and the United States along with the International Organisation for Migration, the Mekong River Commission and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
"A pipeline of projects should take shape in early 2013, with a particular focus on boosting the growth potential of towns and cities with basic infrastructure," an ADB statement said.
The ADB said a preliminary list of projects amounting to at least US$9 billion would increase "substantially" as a regional investment framework is finalised in first quarter of 2013. The framework will be subject to further consultations between and among GMS countries and development partners before being finalised.
The joint statement said future projects should support an integrated GMS energy sector, starting with priority transmission investments in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
"Strengthening their respective national grids would serve as a building block to a regional power grid," the ADB said.
The bank said ministers also endorsed recent initiatives including a planned Regional Power Coordination Center, action plans for human resources development, HIV reduction, extension of agriculture support and a Greater Mekong Railway Association. A GMS Environment Atlas was also launched at the meeting, it said.
Infrastructure targeted for investment includes water and sanitation, transport, power, telecommunications, food handling, protecting natural resources and scaling up environmentally responsible practices.
The GMS programme has invested US$15 billion in roads, airports and railways, telecommunications, energy, urban development, tourism, environmental protection and the prevention of communicable diseases since 1992.
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