9 Jun 2021
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs urged for closer cooperation on access and production of vaccines, post-COVID economic recovery through BCG growth model, digital economy and water resources management at the 6th Mekong - Lancang Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Chongqing, China for the sub-region to re-emerge safer, greener and smarter.
On 8 June 2021, H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, attended the Sixth Mekong - Lancang Cooperation (MLC) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting under the theme of “Solidarity Against COVID-19, Joint Efforts for Post-Pandemic Development” in Chongqing, China.
The Meeting reviewed the past achievements of MLC and exchanged views on its future direction. The Ministers discussed ways to promote cooperation on public health, including the control and prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic and the use of traditional medicine in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. They also deliberated on sub-regional post-COVID-19 economic recovery, local governments’ cooperation, people-to-people contacts and sustainable development, particularly on water resources management in the Mekong - Lancang River Basin and climate change. In addition, they agreed to start the drafting process of the new Five-Year Plan of Action on the Mekong - Lancang Cooperation, replacing the current one which will expire in 2022.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don has attached importance to strengthening the MLC cooperation. He proposed the following approaches at the Meeting:
(1) Public health, especially on the equitable access to vaccines by all;
(2) Post-Covid-19 recovery. The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister suggested enhancing cooperation on Bio-Circular-Green economy (BCG), which is an economic model that is innovation-driven, value-creating and environmentally friendly. As Thailand’s national agenda, BCG focuses on four major industries, including food and agriculture, energy and materials, health and medicine, and tourism and services. They are also the industries in which MLC member countries have comparative advantages;
(3) Promoting linkages between the special economic zones in border areas and development of innovation corridors to support SEZs and BCG industries. This includes the promotion of digital transformation to help build capacity and resilience for the MLC government agencies and businesses to cope with the New Normal environment in a sustainable manner; and
(4) Emphasising the importance of water resources on the livelihood of people living along the Mekong River. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don urged all MLC member countries to redouble the efforts to promote practical cooperation and sustainable management of transboundary waters. Particularly, he stressed that MLC member countries should enhance collaboration on information sharing and early warning system on water level changes so the people downstream could make necessary preparation in time to cope with the consequences. Such cooperation will help strengthen the mutual trust and confidence among the MLC family and garner public support for MLC.
The Meeting adopted three outcome documents: (1) Initiative on Deepening Cooperation among Local Governments of Lancang - Mekong Countries; (2) Joint Statement on Enhancing Sustainable Development Cooperation of the Lancang - Mekong Countries; and (3) Joint Statement on Deepening Cooperation on Traditional Medicine Within the Framework of Lancang - Mekong Cooperation.
The establishment of Mekong - Lancang Cooperation was suggested by Thailand in 2012 with a view to promoting sustainable development and narrowing development gap in the Mekong - Lancang sub-region. MLC is consisted of China, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam. The First MLC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the First MLC Summit were held in November 2015 and March 2016 respectively.