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Joint Ministerial Statement for the 8th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting in Manila, Philippines

August 09, 2017

  • The Eighth Mekong Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting (8th MGC MM) was held on 7 August 2017 in Manila, Philippines. The Meeting was preceded by the MGC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) on 4 August 2017.
  • The Meeting was chaired by H.E. U Kyaw Tin, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and was attended by H.E. Gen (Dr.) V.K. Singh (Retd.), Minister of State for External Affairs, Republic of India; H.E. Mr. Prak Sokhonn, Senior Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Kingdom of Cambodia; H.E. Mr. Saleumxay Kommasith, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao PDR; H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Thailand, and H.E. Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.
  • The Minister noted the SOM Report and appreciated the progress towards the successful implementation of the Plan of Action 2016-2018. The Ministers emphasized the need to expedite the collaboration under MGC while seeking continuously to identify newer areas of cooperation, in order to strengthen economic linkages and to tap trade and investment potential of the cooperation between India and Mekong countries
  • The Ministers noted the progress made towards the formulation of a Master Plan for the Mekong-Ganga region which would identify the strengths and prioritise the requirements of MGC countries.
  • The Ministers appreciated the ongoing activities of the MGC Textiles Museum in Siam Reap, Cambodia, and thanked all partner countries on the efforts towards making the Museum operational and functional. The Ministers agreed on the requirement of making the Museum a self-sustaining body and noted that various possibilities were being explored in this regard. The Ministers desired that a working model be evolved at the earliest in consultation with all stakeholders and a report on the same be presented prior to the next Ministerial Meeting. The Ministers urged all partners to contribute items for display in the Museum and to continue to collaborate towards popularising the Museum.
  • The Ministers appreciated India’s contribution towards capacity building and human resource development in the CLMV countries. The Ministers noted with satisfaction that almost 50 percent scholarships were utilised during 2016-17 and agreed on the need for more effective utilization of these scholarships. The Ministers also noted Thailand’s offer to provide fellowships for Annual International Training Courses (AITC) and Thailand International Post Graduate Programme (TIPP) to member countries in areas such as the sufficiency economy, climate change, food security, public health and Sustainable Development Goals.
  • 7. The Ministers appreciated the efforts of Nalanda University towards strengthening inter-Asian cooperation and facilitating research on the Mekong Ganga region. The Ministers noted the updated status of the establishment of the Common Archival Resource Centre at Nalanda University and urged all partners to commence preparation of archives which can be shared for the creation of the Common Archival Resource Centre.
  • The Ministers welcomed the progress made towards strengthening cooperation in agriculture and food security with the aim to assist member countries in joining, regional food supply chains, developing high-technology and climate-smart agriculture and ensuring food security and food safety for the citizens of the MGC countries. The Ministers welcomed India’s proposal to hold the 1st Joint Working Group Meeting of the project for Conservation of Rice Germplasm.
  • The Ministers recalled the proposal for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) cooperation among the MGC countries and instructed the SOM to convene the 1st meeting of the MGC Joint Working Group of the Cooperation in MSME during the current year. The Ministers welcomed India’s proposal to host the Global MSME Summit with a focus on ASEAN and noted that this would act as an appropriate launch pad for enhancing cooperation amongst the MSMEs of MGC region.
  • The Ministers welcomed the proposal to convene the first MGC Business Conclave by India to be held in January 2018. The Ministers also encouraged participation of businesses and private sector in MGC activities and projects, in particular, in subsequent Annual Business Conclaves to be organized on rotation basis in MGC countries.
  • The Ministers noted that Malaria continues to be a key public health challenge in the ASEAN countries. The Ministers instructed the Senior Officials to evaluate the areas of cooperation in this field between the MGC countries and convene a meeting of experts to discuss the threat of drug resistant malaria at the earliest.
  • The Ministers welcomed the substantial progress made in the execution of the Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) and appreciated the efforts being made by the India in this regard. The Ministers noted that currently nine QIPs in Cambodia and four QIPs in Viet Nam were being implemented, while one project in Cambodia had been completed. The Ministers also noted that four new QIPs have been approved for 2017-2018 in Cambodia, while five new QIPs have been approved for Vietnam for 2017-18. The Ministers welcomed the approval accorded by Lao PDR to the draft MOU, which will set the stage for implementation of three QIPs proposed by Lao PDR in 2017-18.
  • The Ministers reiterated the need to step up efforts towards enhancing connectivity between India and the Mekong Sub-region and agreed to establish MGC Joint Working Group to explore ways to enhance maritime cargo transportation and land connectivity amongst MGC countries, including the extension of the Trilateral Highway into Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam and connecting East-West Economic Corridor and the Southern Coastal Economic Corridor with the Indian Subcontinent. The Ministers also welcomed India’s proposal to host the ASEAN India Connectivity Summit in New Delhi later in 2017 to further give impetus to enhancing cooperation amongst MGC partners.
  • The Ministers agreed that there was tremendous potential for enhancing cooperation amongst the MGC countries in the field of tourism. The Ministers appreciated the efforts being taken by Myanmar in coordinating efforts towards establishment of a "Buddhist Trail” and urged all MGC countries to collaborate for the same. The Ministers encouraged National Tourism Organizations (NTOs) and the tourism industry of MGC countries to accelerate tourism promotion through supporting each other’s participation in professional travel fairs held in India and Mekong countries like SATTE (India), TTM (Thailand), ITE HCMC & VITM (Viet Nam). The Ministers also tasked SOM to explore other potential areas of cooperation in this sector.
  • The Ministers recalled the offer of a US $ 1 billion concessional Line of Credit for enhancing Connectivity that had been made by the Prime Minister of India in November 2015 and appreciated the efforts made by India in sharing details of Digital Connectivity projects that can be carried out in partner countries by utilising the LoC. The Ministers noted that concrete proposals for projects had been received from Lao PDR and Cambodia. The Ministers urged other partner countries to also examine proposals and projects that could be undertaken to enhance connectivity within their countries and with the region.
  • The Ministers appreciated India organising the 1st MGC Policy Dialogue, a track 1.5 event on the theme 'Stronger Connectivity, Enhancing Ties' on 8 April 2017 in New Delhi. The Ministers expressed their desire that the Policy Dialogue should become an annual event which would explore various themes aimed at enhancing cooperation within the MGC. The Ministers also encouraged India to organize more trade and investment events between the Mekong countries and India. The Ministers noted the key recommendations made by the Policy Dialogue and tasked the SOM to examine the same for ascertaining action points. The Ministers also tasked the SOM with preparing a draft MGC Plan of Action for the period 2019 – 2021 and presenting the same to the Ministers during the next MGC Ministerial Meeting.
  • The Ministers agreed to hold the 9th MGC Ministerial Meeting on the margins of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Singapore in 2018 which is to be chaired by the Royal Kingdom of Thailand. The date and venue will be communicated via diplomatic channels in due course.
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