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THE MODEL ECONOMIC COOPERATION STRATEGY
PLAN OF ACTION

Introduction

At the Special ASEAN Leaders' Meeting on SARS in Bangkok on 29 April 2003, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra informally introduced the possibility for the four nations to develop an Economic Cooperation Strategy (ECS) to fully harness the enormous economic potential among them. The Leaders of Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar had welcomed the idea. Such cooperation is expected not only to bring about a win-win situation for all four countries, but also to facilitate  deeper economic integration through greater intra-regional trade and investment. To this end, the first meeting of Foreign Ministers on the Economic Cooperation Strategy (ECS) between Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand (CLMT), held in Bangkok on 1 August 2003, discussed the concept, principles and strategic areas of economic cooperation among the four nations in order to increase trade and investment, enhance competitiveness and generate more employment and improved distribution of income and quality of life in the sub-region. In order to implement the ECS, action plans are being drawn up to materialize this strategy. The Economic Cooperation Strategy Plan of Action (ECSPA) is the first in a series of plans of action, building up to the realization of the goals of the ECS. The ECSPA has a 10-year timeframe from 2003 to 2012. The progress of its implementation shall be reviewed every two years. To facilitate implementation, the proposed investment programs, projects and cooperation arrangements are divided into phases: immediate-to-short term (2003-2005), medium term (2006-2008) and long term (2009-2012).

In recognition of the need to promote economic cooperation, the CLMT countries shall implement initiatives to reduce trade barriers, improve transport linkages and upgrade major border checkpoints and promote cooperation in five strategic areas as follows:


1. Trade and Investment Facilitation
The ECS shall capitalize on the comparative advantages of the CLMT countries to establish a prosperous and highly competitive sub-region. The objective is to facilitate the flows of goods and investments, which are crucial for job creation, income promotion and reduced socio-economic disparities.

1.1. Strengthen production and marketing potentials, expand trading activities and improve the flows of goods and services within and across markets;
1.2. Explore various payment modalities to facilitate trade transactions and encourage the increased use of CLMT currencies for border trade transactions and explore the introduction of an account trade system;
1.3. Facilitate transit shipment of goods to provide better access to export outlets/ product distribution centers along the border areas;
1.4. Enhance trade facilitation in customs by simplifying customs procedures and strengthening customs administration;
1.5. Establish contact points to facilitate ongoing exchange of information/ ECS Business Forum;
1.6. Enhance the competitiveness of the CLMT sub-region for attracting sustainable levels of direct investment flows into the sub-region;
1.7. Extend, where it is appropriate under the laws, the 100 percent shareholder status in industrial sector to investors from the CLMT countries and open up relevant industries for investments;
1.8. Enhance transparency and simplify rules, regulations and policies relating to trade and investment, including rules on, (a) licensing, (b) access to domestic finance, (c) payments and receipts and (d) repatriation of profits by investors;
1.9. Create attractive investment environment via the provision of major off-site infrastructure and regional supply systems, such as power and transportation.

2. Agricultural and Industrial Cooperation

The CLMT nations shall strengthen and enhance cooperation efforts in agriculture and industry through such means as establishing or improving infrastructure facilities, joint production, marketing and purchasing arrangements, research and development and exchange of information.

Agricultural Cooperation:
The objective is to strengthen agricultural cooperation by increasing productivity, improving market access and promoting investments in agriculture, livestock, fisheries and forestry among the CLMT countries.
2.1. Identify potential cash crops for joint development (i.e. soy bean, corn and castor bean) among the CLMT countries;
2.2. Increase farmers’ production efficiency by broadening institutional frameworks to enable effective cooperation in production, research and development activities;
2.3. Develop and strengthen farmers and rural communities in economic, social and environmental management to promote sustainable development through enhanced human resource development programs;
2.4. Promote close consultation and cooperation of private sector of CLMT countries in investments in agriculture and agro-processing industries;
2.5. Enhance the competitiveness of agriculture sector through development and use of appropriate technologies to increase productivity and quality;
2.6. Integrate the production base by introducing appropriate technologies, expanding and improving supply chains of agricultural produce;
2.7. Promote information sharing, joint marketing and systematizing flows of primary goods from production areas to processing facilities and market networks;
2.8. Undertake analysis of the long-term supply and demand prospects of major food commodities (rice, corn, soybean, sugar, oilseeds, vegetable and fruit trees) in the four countries;
2.9. Provide support services in research and development;
2.10. Strengthen programs in food and agriculture technology transfer, training and extension to increase productivity and food safety;
2.11. Enhance cooperation in Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Standards (SPS).

Industrial Cooperation:

The objective is to promote ECS industrial cooperation in particular in industrial estate in strategic areas.
2.12. Capitalize on the existing GSP and MFN status to increase market access to industrialized countries by expanding industrial and agricultural facilities among the CLMT countries;
2.13. Promote co-production ventures in industrial estates in strategic areas;
2.14. Establish clustered networking and strategic alliances with the private sector to promote investment opportunities in order to promote import substitution and the growth of entrepreneurial skills;
2.15. Ensure sustainable energy supply by promoting joint development of petroleum resources in the overlapping areas and establishing partnership in developing hydropower;
2.16. Institute the implementation modalities for the realization of the sub-regional power transmission networks;
2.17. Share experiences and render assistance in developing legal framework for industrialization among the CLMT countries;
2.18. Provide maximum encouragement to the employment of labor in the CLMT countries in the production process;
2.19. Establish R&D and Skills Development Centers;
2.20. Develop a modern, dynamic, competitive and efficient SME sector by addressing priority areas of human resource development, information dissemination, access to technology and technology sharing, finance and marketing;
2.21. Establish national export financing/credit guarantee schemes for SMEs in strategic areas of cooperation;
2.22. Promote information networking between existing SME-related organizations in the CLMT countries and organize regular joint training programs and seminars for SMEs;
2.23. Enhance the development of geological and mineral resources through the exchange of information, publication and strengthening cooperation among the CLMT countries;
2.24. Enhance trade and industry technical infrastructure in laboratory testing, calibration, certification and accreditation;
2.25. Promote investment in supporting infrastructures through the development of ‘economic corridors’, ‘inter-corridor linkages’ and ‘special economic zones’;
2.26. Enhance incentive investment packages among CLMT countries, in strategic areas joint publications of investment and business information as well as databases and statistics;
2.27. Develop agro-processing industries.

3. Transport Linkages
The objective is to develop and utilize transport linkages among CLMT countries to facilitate trade, investment, agricultural and industrial production, and tourism.
3.1. Attach first priorities (immediate-to-short term status) of transport linkages to existing/ongoing transport projects, as well as projects with the highest potential of short term economic return; second priorities (medium-to-long term status) to other projects that are complimentary to the first priority projects;
3.2. Utilize existing routes and corridors in the CLMT countries by implementing existing ASEAN and Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Framework Agreements on Goods in Transit and Cross-border Transport and implementing Protocols Annexes to facilitate the movement of goods and people in transit;
3.3. Promote technical cooperation in areas related to transport linkages;
3.4. Promote possible public-private partnerships in transport linkage delivery system.

4. Tourism Cooperation
The objective is to promote joint strategy for tourism cooperation among the CLMT countries in order to facilitate travels of people from outside and within the region.
4.1. Conduct joint promotion and marketing of the sub-region and convene top-level tourism marketing missions to promote the CLMT countries;
4.2. Jointly promote existing and explore new forms of tourism development, in which the natural and cultural resources are preserved;
4.3. Cooperate to enhance tourism safety and security;
4.4. Develop a joint CLMT tourism website/ information database;
4.5. Establish a network of tourism training centers and develop trainers and training materials for employment across the CLMT;
4.6. Upgrade international border checkpoints to promote cross-border facilitation and ease travel into and within the CLMT countries;
4.7. Cooperate and promote air linkages among the CLMT countries.

5. Human Resource Development
The CLMT countries will cooperate to increase capacity of their peoples and institutions to prepare them for global competitiveness through the following activities:
5.1. Identify each country's needs and expertise to mutually promote and implement capacity building and HRD in the strategic areas of ECS and related sectors;
5.2. Intensify and strengthen existing institutional linkages and university networks;
5.3. Develop ECS integrated HRD strategy;
5.4. Promote and strengthen effective technical cooperation in HRD, R&D, infrastructure development, SME and supporting industry development, information and industrial technology development;
5.5. Identify and seek cooperation from other countries and international organizations for ECS activities.

Conclusion

In order to facilitate implementation o f the Plan of Action, as a part of the Bagan Declaration, the four countries shall carry out projects in the order of priority set out in the annexes of the Plan of Action.
The progress of implementation shall be reviewed biennially.

 

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