Speaking at a two-day Greater Mekong Sub-Region Economic Corridors Forum in Phnom Penh yesterday, Asian Development Bank Cambodia Country Director Arjun Goswami, told representatives of the GMS—made up of Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Burma and parts of Southern China—that increasing efficiency across their borders will ease the flow of goods and increase competitiveness.
Under its GMS Program, ADB has loaned $11 billion since 1992 for infrastructure projects in the region, including roads, ports, power facilities and other projects, though Mr Goswami said more work is necessary to establish economic corridors.
“At this point…this progress in physical connectivity has not yet been matched by increases in private sector investment in the corridors,” he said at the forum, where representatives gathered to discuss how to improve cross-border trade.
“There are still substantial impediments to the smooth flow of vehicles, goods and people across borders of the sub region,” he said, citing “restrictions on the movement of motor vehicles across borders; difference in vehicle standards; inconsistent and cumbersome formalities related to customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary inspections, and clearances; and restrictive visa requirements.”
The ADB has organized nearly $228 million for projects in Cambodia, including construction of electricity transmission lines and road improvements, according to the bank. Still, according to his presentation, portions of the ADB’s “Greater Mekong Sub-region Program” in Cambodia are incomplete, including the delayed rehabilitation of the railway from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and from the capital to Poipet.
Upgrades of National Road 5 from Phnom Penh to Banteay Meanchey province is scheduled to finish this year. By 2010 an upgrade of roads between Siem Reap and Vietnam will be complete, finishing what Mr Goswami’s presentation described as “key missing links” in the “Southern Economic Corridor” that spans Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.