With leaders from the Greater Mekong Sub-region gathering next week in Phnom Penh for a new summit on Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, leading political thinkers and researchers say the LMC mechanism plays a crucial role in enhancing economic cooperation in the region and complements the work being done at the Asean-level.
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The LMC is a relatively new mechanism that brings together foreign ministers from China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, the countries that the Mekong passes through.
Speaking during a forum on the LMC yesterday in Phnom Penh, Sok Siphana, an advisor to the government, said the LMC framework plays a key role in boosting economic growth in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.
“Our foundation of economic growth is based on garments, tourism and construction, but in the future we cannot depend on these alone,” he said. “We have to focus on the manufacturing sector, and climb up the regional value chain.
“The core benefit of the LMC framework is that it will help attract investors from China and neighbouring countries, which create jobs in high value-added industries.”
Chheang Vannarith, the vice-chairman of the Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies, said the LMC addresses key elements that support the work at Asean-level.
“Asean gives us the single market, but there is a lack of cooperation to boost production and productivity,” he said. “The LMC forum complements the work done at an Asean-level by energising production capacity.
“Cooperation on boosting production is a focus for the LMC and a key step in moving from a labour intensive economy to a skill-based market,” he said, adding that the work done at the LMC serves to support Asean efforts to reduce development gaps in the region.
The LMC was launched in 2015. The first leaders’ meeting took place in March 2016 in the Chinese province of Hainan. Lancang is the Chinese word for the Mekong.
The LMC is based on three pillars – political and security issues, economic and sustainable development and socio-cultural issues. There are also five key priority areas – connectivity, production capacity, cross-border economic cooperation, water resources and agriculture and poverty reduction.