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Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Urges CLMVT Master Plan

Source: Bangkok Post

Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, the new drivers for Asean and Asian economic growth, should come up with a joint master plan for connectivity and key infrastructure development to strengthen the region’s competitiveness, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

Speaking at a seminar entitled “CLMVT: The New Economic Driver of Asia,” Mr Somkid said the five countries also need to jointly develop innovation and technology to raise people’s income.

“Given a combined population of 230 million people and average economic growth of 6-8%, the five countries are drawing investment attention from many countries such as China, India, Korea, Japan, the United States and EU,” he said. “It’s now time for them to come together to develop their own master plan for development and tell the donor countries what projects they need.”

Mr Somkid also said CLMV-based companies should list on the Stock Exchange of Thailand to raise funds to finance investment in their respective countries.

Foreign investors are also eligible to use Thailand as a gateway to CLMV, he said, adding Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor, in particular, will offer a significant route linking to China’s signature One Belt, One Road initiative.

The initiative has become the centrepiece of China’s economic diplomacy, with the goal of promoting regional and cross-continental connectivity between China and Eurasia.

The One Belt and One Road refer to China’s proposed Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road. Connectivity covers five major areas of interest: policy coordination, infrastructure construction (including railways and highways), unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people ties. Among these, infrastructure construction is the dominant feature of the New Silk Road.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January that China will host a “One Belt, One Road” summit in Beijing this May to brainstorm interconnected development.

Mr Somkid said China had invited Thailand’s finance, commerce, foreign and transport ministries to participate.

“CLMVT members are key among Asean states that are ambitious to ramp up the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) talks,” said Mr Somkid. “RCEP is expected to be implemented faster than expected after the United States pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

The RCEP was launched in November 2012 with the aim of establishing deeper economic cooperation among the 10 Asean members and six trading partners: China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Asean members have recently reaffirmed their vow to cut import tariffs on 90% of products, amounting to 5,000-6,000 items, under the RCEP over the next 15 years.