Sokhonn lauds Mekong region co-op progress

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Foreign affairs minister Prak Sokhonn speaking at a regional event recently. MFAIC

Foreign minister Prak Sokhonn said he looks forward to seeing the evolution of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) framework.

The evolution, he said, would not only complement the Belt and Road and Global Development Initiatives, but also support the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and ensure the realisation of the Mekong-Lancang Economic Development Belts, in synergy with the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor.

In a March 21 message celebrating the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Week 2023, he said that despite the slow recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and other ongoing uncertainties, the MLC signatories are deepening their cooperation.

“Together, we will combat these challenges, and ensure that our region remains safe and open,” he said.

“Over the past seven years, the MLC mechanism has remained progressive across the developmental spectrum. This is thanks to a focus on building resilience through sustainable growth and close cooperation. Our progress is underpinned by our common aspirations to promote peace, stability, and a shared future of prosperity,” he added.

Sokhonn said the new MLC Plan of Action (2023-2027) will focus on prioritising development areas, while building on the substantial achievements of the previous plan.

He said the MLC Special Fund has responded to the practical development needs of its members.

“Cambodia has benefited from 80 Special Fund projects, totalling $31 million,” he added.

The diverse range of cooperation activities covers the fields of rural development, poverty alleviation, water resources, agriculture, air connectivity, health, education, tourism, cultural heritage preservation and women’s empowerment, among many others.

“I take this opportunity to express our appreciation to China for its ongoing engagement in advancing the MLC framework to ensure its success,” he said.

“Cambodia will continue to promote the MLC as one of the most relevant sub-regional platforms to support the multilateralism that will realise our vision of building a community with a shared future of peace and prosperity,” he added.

Thong Mengdavid, a researcher at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, said the MLC mechanism drives the socio-economic development and solves common challenges for all of its member states.

“Both it and the Belt and Road Initiative strengthen economic recovery and build regional connections which ease the costs – in terms of time and money – of transportation. This will lead to improved livelihoods across the region,” he explained.

“The relation between Cambodia and China has made the Kingdom a focal point in the region, helping it to play an important role in building regional economies, security, and stability, while also promoting multilateralism,” he added.