European Countries Encouraged to Explore Opportunities in Mekong Region
European development partners will gather in Stockholm, Sweden, next week to explore cooperation and investment opportunities in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).

The Mekong Development Forum, organized on 3-4 April by the Asian Development Bank (ASX: ATB), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will present the accomplishments and challenges faced by the GMS in key sectors - energy, environment, and transport.

The GMS, a subregional economic cooperation initiative, began in 1992 with ADB assistance. The GMS participating countries are Cambodia, People's Republic of China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

In the last decade, these countries have undergone significant economic transformation and the subregion has emerged as a key factor in the development equation for South and Southeast Asia. However, challenges remain. Sound environmental management, reliable energy supply, and improved transport connectivity are all needed to achieve the development goals of the subregion.

"As the GMS countries are becoming more integrated, the implementation of the GMS Program requires stronger and broader partnerships to mobilize the needed intellectual and financial resources so that they can bring about effective and timely outcomes in the region," says ADB Vice President Liqun Jin.

"Expanding cooperation with both public and private sector development partners is crucial to create greater impact and accelerate poverty reduction in the GMS."

Representatives from GMS countries, public and private development agencies mostly from the Nordic countries, and European development agencies are expected to attend the Forum.

"Our European development partners, particularly in the Nordic countries, are significant contributors to and investors in the GMS region," Mr. Jin adds. "We hope that the Forum will particularly demonstrate to the European private sector that there are vast and very real investment opportunities emerging in the GMS."

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in the Asia and Pacific region through pro-poor sustainable economic growth, social development, and good governance. Established in 1966, it is owned by 64 members - 46 from the region.

In 2005, it approved loans and grants for projects totaling $6.95 billion, and technical assistance amounting to $198.8 million.

Omana Nair
Tel:+632 632 5178; +63 917 855 2085 

Floyd Whaley
Tel:+632 632 6848; +63 9717 888 6848 


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