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Home » H.E Sok Siphana highlights the benefits of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Expressway for regional connectivity and cooperation

H.E Sok Siphana highlights the benefits of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Expressway for regional connectivity and cooperation

by Surya Narayan
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The India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Expressway is not just a major infrastructure project, but also a symbol of cultural and economic relations between India and the Mekong countries. This ambitious initiative, aimed at improving connectivity and fostering regional cooperation, was highlighted by Sok Siphana, a veteran diplomat and Senior Advisor to the Royal Government of Cambodia.

Speaking at the 12th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bangkok, Siphana praised India’s commitment to expanding the expressway to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. The meeting, co-chaired by Saleumxay Korrimaslth, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs of India, brought together ministers from the Mekong countries to discuss the socio-economic development of their nations.

The IMT Trilateral Expressway, spanning 1,360 kilometers, is expected to be operational by 2027. It is not just a standalone project but also aligned with the ASEAN Connectivity Master Plan 2025 and India’s Act East Policy, both of which aim to enhance connectivity in the region. The completion of this highway will not only improve trade ties with Mekong countries but also promote tourism, fostering economic growth across the region.

While initially planned to connect Moreh in India’s Manipur state with Mae Sot, Thailand through Myanmar, India has been actively considering extending the highway to link with more countries in the ASEAN region. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s suggestion to expand the highway to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam was met with enthusiasm, and discussions in this regard have taken place during the ASEAN-India Summit.

Moreover, the MGC ministers acknowledged India’s assistance through the implementation of the Quick Impact Projects (QIP) scheme, which has seen the successful completion of 78 projects since its inception in 2015. This further underscores India’s commitment to supporting sustainable development in the Mekong countries.

Looking towards the future, Siphana recommended that the MGC focus on digital transformation, green revolution, and economic, trade, and investment cooperation. By exploring these areas, the MGC can stimulate innovation, enhance environmental sustainability, and strengthen economic activities in the region.

A key outcome of the meeting was the agreement to streamline the functioning of the MGC through improved lead country mechanisms for each area of cooperation. Additionally, the establishment of an MGC Business Council was proposed to guide future interactions and promote trade and investment cooperation. These steps will not only enhance cooperation but also expand regional economic activities.

In the spirit of collaboration, the ministers emphasized their commitment to strengthening cooperation on sustainable water resources utilization and management. They welcomed engagement with the Mekong River Commission to enhance cooperation on water-related issues, underlining the importance of managing this invaluable resource.

The 12th MGC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting concluded with the adoption of a Joint Statement and two annexes – the concept notes on the lead country mechanism and the MGC Business Council. This outcome further solidifies the commitment of the Mekong countries and India to forge stronger partnerships and work towards common goals.

The IMT Trilateral Expressway project serves as a testament to the deepening cultural and economic ties between India and the Mekong countries. It not only boosts connectivity but also fosters regional cooperation and development. With the commitment and collaboration shown by all stakeholders, the IMT Trilateral Expressway will pave the way for a prosperous and interconnected future for the entire region.

Source: Khmer Times

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