Region’s Ministers Plan Economic Cooperation

bangkok – The foreign ministers of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Burma agreed Friday on a range of initiatives aimed at creating tighter economic bonds between the four countries.

Speaking to Thai reporters after a meeting of the four ministers, Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said a working group had been established to oversee new economic cooperation initiatives. He said progress in increasing economic cooperation between the nations would be assessed at a senior ministers meeting scheduled to be held in Cambodia on Aug 29.

Among the key issues the ministers agreed to cooperate on were boosting bilateral trade and investment, particularly in the agriculture sector. Although few specifics were mentioned, this was understood to mean that Thai investors would be encouraged to provide more capital and expertise to promote agricultural projects in Thailand’s economically less-developed neighbors.

Surakiart Sathirathai said the four ministers also agreed to promote transportation links, tour­ism and human resource development. To facilitate economic in­te­gration, he said, the four governments were working on plans to promote the “twin cities” concept, linking the Thai city of Trat with Koh Kong.

Koh Kong Governor Yuth Phou­thang said it was a “great advantage” for the area.

The “tourists galore” who visit Trat could stop in Koh Kong on their way to Siem Reap, he suggested Monday. “Trat can be our market for our fish and lobsters,” he added.

He was also excited about a $232,000 feasibility study for potential garment factories in Koh Kong’s Mondol Seima district.

In a next-day meeting in Laos’ Champassak province the foreign ministers of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand agreed to push forward a tourism development project to include a golf course spanning a border between the three countries, the state Thai News Agency reported Sunday.

The project, known as the Emerald Triangle, would be a tri-national tourist destination where the three countries’ borders meet. (Additional reporting by Van Roeun and The Associated Press)

 

Problems confronting the project include land mine clearance and environmental damage, Surakiart Sathirathai said.

 

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