Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh on February 20 suggested that the Mekong-Lancang cooperation (MLC) should contribute to consolidating coordination between countries in handling regional challenges and bringing about long-term benefits for people.
The mechanism should aim for strengthening the economy’s resilience in the face of uncertainties, Minh said at the fifth MLC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Vientiane, Laos.
He emphasised the need to focus resources on vulnerable sectors and those that serve as economic engines of member countries.
He elaborated that in agricultural cooperation, it is necessary to focus on raising technology capacity for businesses, and improving market stability and confidence for farm produce.
Minh also pointed to the severe drought in the Mekong River Basin that requires relevant countries to take drastic actions to ensure the river’s sustainable development.
He proposed intensifying the sharing of hydrological information and statistics in both rainy and dry seasons, setting up early warning systems and coordination mechanisms in the emergency management of floods, droughts and other disasters, carrying out joint projects to ensure people’s livelihood in the face of climate change, enhancing cooperation in fighting diseases and reducing regional supply chain disruptions.
At the meeting, the ministers, who come from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, China and Vietnam, reviewed cooperation in 2019 and discussed collaboration orientations in the time ahead.
They took note of good outcomes in priority areas, especially the organisation of the first Ministerial Meeting of Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation, the signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the MLC Water Resources Cooperation Centre and the Secretariat of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) and the establishment of the MLC agricultural cooperation centre, among others.
The ministers agreed to push ahead with the implementation of the MLC Plan of Action for 2018-2020, under which the member countries will speed up the building and realisation of an action plan on regional connectivity, production capacity, water resources, trade and agriculture; foster partnerships in the combat against natural disasters, diseases and cross-border crime; step up exchanges and dialogues between local authorities and border gate management agencies; and improve the operational efficiency of the MLC Special Fund.
They consented to strengthen the MLC’s connectivity and support for relevant regional cooperation mechanisms such as the ASEAN, the Greater Mekong Sub-region, the Mekong River Commission and the Ayeyawady - Chao Phraya - Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS).
Regarding the complex development of COVID-19 and its impacts, the ministers called on countries to boost coordination and share information about the epidemic, while maintaining trade exchange and economic growth.
They agreed to organise the third MLC Summit in Laos in 2020.
On the sidelines of the China-ASEAN Special Foreign Ministers' Meeting also in Vientiane, Minh met with Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, during which the two sides shared the view on the fruitful development of the Vietnam-Malaysia strategic partnership
They concurred to promote high-level delegation exchanges, carry forward bilateral cooperation mechanisms, especially the joint committee on economic, scientific and technological cooperation, soon sign an action programme on the implementation of the strategic partnership for 2020-2025, and enhance cooperation and mutual support as Vietnam serves as ASEAN Chair and Malaysia plays the host of APEC 2020.
Vietnam and Malaysia will further their partnership in maritime issues and work together to contribute to promoting peace, stability and respect for international law in the East Sea.