Remarks at the Opening Session of the 7th GMS Summit under the Theme: “GMS: Renewed Strength to Face the Challenges of the New Decade”

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  • Your Excellency Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
  • Your Excellency Phankham Viphavanh, Prime Minister of Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  • Your Excellency Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Chairman of the State Administration Council, Republic of the Union of Myanmar
  • Your Excellency General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand
  • Your Excellency Pham Minh Chinh, Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
  • Your Excellency Masatsugu Asakawa, President of the Asian Development Bank
  • Excellencies, Ladies and

To begin, on behalf of the Royal Government and the People of Cambodia, I would like to express my warm welcome to Your Excellencies, Leaders of the Mekong Countries and President of the Asian Development Bank on the occasion of the Seventh GMS Summit via videoconference. As the Chair for the Summit, Cambodia has been honored to facilitate the review and preparation of the New Strategic Framework that has guided the future directions of GMS Cooperation Program towards achieving a shared prosperity based on the principles of international laws, peace and solidarity.

This is the second Summit that Cambodia has the honor to host. I fondly recall that the First GMS Summit held in Phnom Penh in 2002 produced the first ever GMS Long-Term Strategic Framework covering 2002-2012. Although our cooperation program had already realized significant achievements by that time, it was the first formal strategy to guide our joint efforts in pursuit of our vision for the GMS. The new strategy that we will endorse in a moment, together with the first strategy, aims to prepare us to face what we recognized as a fast evolving and challenging regional and global context, characterized by increasing globalization, and rising environmental and social threats.

Amidst the great uncertainty caused by the global public health crisis as well as other global and regional issues, the Seventh GMS Summit has now adopted the theme, “Greater Mekong Subregion: Renewed Strength to Face the Challenges of the New Decade”, which reflects our firm commitment to addressing new challenges, thus ensuring centrality of GMS in regional connectivity and propelling GMS countries towards sustainable and inclusive development.

  • Excellencies, Leaders of the Mekong Countries;

Currently, although we expect the Covid-19 crisis to ease in the near future with the surging momentum of global vaccination programs, the world remains at risk with a new wave of Covid-19 pandemics caused by the Delta variant which continues to disrupt public health systems, tourism and the global supply chain. In this context, it is crucial that we accelerate and deepen our solidarity under the spirit of multilateralism in order to ensure robust socioeconomic recovery after the crisis. On this basis, I would like to highlight certain points as follow:

First, I am pleased to see positive development of the GMS cooperation most notably the achievements we have made in all areas that contribute to strengthening regional connectivity,  promoting  competitiveness,  and  building  communities  through  full implementation of the Greater Mekong Subregion Strategic Framework 2022, the Hanoi Action Plan, and the Regional Investment Framework since our 6th Summit in 2018. Moving forward, our cooperation is strategically necessary as we continue working closely together to transform challenges into opportunities for the development of our region.

In this regard, I believe that the adoption of the Greater Mekong Subregion Strategic Framework 2030 and our new Mission Statement for the GMS—Focusing on the fundamental strengths of communities, connectivity, and competitiveness, while embracing the core principles of environmental sustainability and resilience with integration and inclusiveness, to build the GMS Community towards a shared future—will be the strong pillars for the Greater Mekong Subregion to provide adequate responses to current challenges especially to develop economic and social resilience amidst the rapidly changing regional and global context.

Second, at the regional level, we have witnessed the utmost efforts by the Mekong countries in the fight against Covid-19 through the implementation of appropriate prevention and containment measures as well as mitigation responses that support our economic activities and the livelihood of our peoples. As for Cambodia, the Royal Government has made her best efforts in controlling the Covid-19 crisis with the rollout of the nationwide vaccination campaign and enforcement of public health and administrative measures that are aimed at reducing community transmission. Nevertheless, this new wave of Covid-19 pandemic has had severe impacts on Cambodia’s economy, most notably in the areas of textiles, tourism, and other service sectors, which brings about uncertainty in her recovery for 2021. In this context, I believe that our joint efforts are essential for our post-crisis recovery and growth especially with the adoption of the GMS Covid-19 Response and Recovery Plan 2021- 2023 which will enable us to launch timely responses that will pave the way for smooth operations of supply chains, trade, investment, tourism and public health in our region.

Third, as we currently combat the spread of Covid-19, I would like to take this opportunity to commend the People’s Republic of China for her role in providing vaccines to fight against the Covid-19 outbreaks for countries in the region. I would also like to express my profound thank again to the People’s Republic of China for her donation of Covid-19 vaccines to the Cambodian people. Likewise, I would like to express our gratitude to the international community through the World Health Organization’s COVAX program, as well as to other bilateral partners for sharing and providing vaccines to Cambodia. These reflect our friendship and solidarity in time of crisis, as I used to say “Love each other in times of need, know good friends in times of trouble”. It is this friendship and solidarity that contribute to every effort made by the Royal Government to return Cambodia to normalcy and recover her economy after the COVID-19 crisis.

Fourth, indeed in this hard time, our path forward lies not only in our strategic directions and action plans to rehabilitate our shared prosperity but also in our efforts to mobilize funding especially tapping synergies and complementing with other financing programs in the Mekong region, as we aim to deliver tangible outcomes for our development projects. In the meantime, public-private partnership remains a key indispensable financing mechanism that helps to resolve our financing challenges.

Fifth, with regard to regional connectivity—an area that is at the heart of our cooperation — I would like to highlight the importance of digital connectivity as it serves to compensate the loss of productivity caused by the Covid-19 crisis and also to ensure effective and sustainable socio-economic development. Therefore, in the midst of our economic recovery, Cambodia urges that GMS cooperation focuses on the development of digital infrastructure, integration of the digital economy, and upskilling of our workforce in the era of Fourth Industrial Revolution so as to maintain high competitiveness for our economies. In the meantime, development of smart cities, clean energy and logistics systems should be further strengthened.

Once again, on behalf of the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia, I would like to express my deep gratitude to Your Excellencies, Leaders of the Mekong countries and

H.E. Masatsugu Asakawa, President of the Asian Development Bank, for your strong support and cooperation as Cambodia successfully delivers the mandate as the Chair Country for the Greater Mekong Subregion in 2021.

In closing, I hope that our meeting will deliver fruitful outcomes that bring about benefits to our region and peoples. I now would like to announce the opening of the Seventh GMS Summit.

Thank you!