On 11 September 2020, H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, participated in the 1st Mekong-US Partnership Ministerial Meeting via videoconference, which was co-chaired by H.E. Mr. Pham Binh Minh the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam and H.E. Mr. Stephen Biegun the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State. The Meeting welcomed the elevation of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) towards the Mekong-U.S. Partnership and reviewed progress as well as discussed future directions of the cooperation framework.
On this occasion, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand highlighted the importance of continuity of cooperation under MUSP, and proposed areas of future cooperation to respond to COVID-19 and ensure economic recovery. He also emphasised the need to promote the sustainability of supply chain through enhanced multidimensional connectivity including infrastructure, digital, energy, and regulation, as well as human resource development in the areas which can help peoples and businesses, especially MSMEs, to adapt to the ‘New Normal’, such as digital economy, e-learning, which are all the areas in which the U.S. has expertise and can collaborate with the Mekong countries. To promote health security, Thailand is ready to cooperate on the sharing of experiences, vaccine research and development, and is calling for equal access to vaccine to combat the COVID-19, which should be considered as a global public good. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs also expressed Thailand’s readiness to continue cooperation with member countries to ensure sustainable management and conservation of water, natural resources, and the environment, as well as to promote synergy and complementarity between the Partnership and other sub-regional and regional frameworks, especially ACMECS, given the U.S has already become ACMECS development partner since 2019.
The Meeting adopted the Mekong-U.S. Partnership Joint Ministerial Statement, reaffirming member countries’ commitment to cooperation in various areas to bring about peace, security, prosperity, and sustainable development in the Lower Mekong Sub-region.
MUSP is elevated from a decade-long cooperation known as LMI, which was initiated by the United States in 2009, to promote equitable and sustainable development in the Mekong sub-region. It comprises of six member countries; namely the United States, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam.