Mekong Monitor

Photo credit: Bangkok Post





Thailand and Laos aim to link countries by high-speed rail by 2023
(6 March 2019) The Thai government hopes to complete the 608-kilometre Thai-Sino high-speed railway project linking Bangkok to the northeastern Thai province of Nong Khai by 2023 in order to further extend the route to Laos as soon as possible, said Nathporn Chatusripitak, a spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. According to him, the route will connect Nong Khai and Vientiane through the new Thai-Lao friendship bridge which has been engineered to accommodate railways. The Bangkok-Nong Khai rail project consists of two phases. The first phase is a 253km-long section from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima while the second phase is a 355km section that will connect Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai. Once completed, the high-speed railway will operate trains running at the speed of 250km per hour, reducing the travel time from Bangkok to Nong Khai from 11 hours to three hours. The Bangkok-Nong Khai rail project will extend to Vientiane from Na Tha station in Nong Khai’s Muang district.
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Vietnam Airlines and Cambodia sign agreements to boost tourism cooperation
(1 March 2019) Vietnam Airlines and Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism signed a tourism development agreement on February 26 to boost cooperation between the countries for a three-year period. The agreement was signed in the presence of Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during the former’s official state visit to Cambodia. Under the agreement, Vietnam Airlines pledged to help promote Cambodian tourism through events and products, offer flight tickets with no baggage fees for Cambodian government servants attending conferences and training programs in Vietnam, as well as provide job opportunities for Cambodian tourism students. The carrier also announced that it will increase the number of flights on its Danang-Siem Reap route in April.
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Bangkok Airways to expand CLMV routes this year
(6 March 2019) Bangkok Airways has set route expansion as its priority for 2019, particularly to destinations throughout the CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam) region, the airline’s president Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth announced. To this end, it will add 20 new airplanes to its roster over the next 10 years, as well as invest in airport infrastructure improvements and extensions. The plan follows positive results from a similar CLMV expansion strategy in 2018, which saw Bangkok Airways delivering up to 30 flights per day from Thailand to CLMV countries. According to the airline’s marketing head Prote Setsuwan, the company believes that the airline’s strategy of targeting high potential CLMV markets and bolstering its digital marketing campaigns will help reverse the negative trend seen in the company’s finances in 2018.
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Cambodia lauds Vietnamese rubber companies for contributions to country’s development
(1 March 2019) The Cambodian government expressed its gratitude towards contributions made by Vietnamese rubber companies to the Cambodian economy over the years and for helping the country achieve a 7% annual growth rate. This was conveyed by Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhayly during an industry conference held in Phnom Penh on February 28. At the same conference, a report highlighted the Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG), which has invested in 19 projects in Cambodia since 2007, with a combined value of US$750 million as of the end of 2018. Further, the group has helped develop basic infrastructure in the seven provinces it operates in and created 15,000 jobs with an average monthly income of US$230 per person.
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Thai-Cambodia partnership event to boost border trade
(5 March 2019) The Thai Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) announced that it will host a border economic partnership event on March 25-26 to encourage trade and investment between the countries’ public and private sectors. The event comes on the back of the inking of the Thai-Cambodia Growth Strategy of Border Provinces’ Economic Cooperation pact in 2018 which aims to boost bilateral ties at the local level and increase border trade. According to the DFT, high-ranking officials from both countries are expected to join the event, during which meetings will be held to discuss ways to intensify cooperation to boost border trade and investment. Further, the DFT expects the business matching session for four sectors — food and beverage, consumer goods, agriculture machinery, automotive — to generate transactions worth over US$947,507.
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About Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)

The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Programme was launched by the Asian Development Bank in 1992 connecting five developing ASEAN countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, and Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region. The region has some of the most robust economies sharing the Mekong River Basin thanks to its reform and liberalisation. The subregion is growing at a faster pace than the whole of East Asia and the Asia Pacific as the GDP growth rate for 2017 was at 6.4 percent, according to the World Bank. The population at the subregion as of 2016 is at 340 million while the GDP at PPP is at US$3.1 trillion in 2016. In 2015, trading within the region was at US$444 billion.

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