Myanmar to host four-country commercial navigation meeting

People's Daily (China) 5 April 2007

Myanmar will host the Sixth Meeting of the Joint Committee on Coordination of Commercial Navigation (JCCCN) of four countries in the upper reaches of the MekongRiver later this month, the local Yangon Times reported Thursday.

The meeting to be held in Tachilek, Myanmar's eastern Shan state, involves China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, the four upper Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries, and will address issues of transportation of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and petroleum products
(PP), the report said, adding that matters related to port tax will also be covered by the discussions.

Through such oil transportation, Myanmar will be benefited for the role of its border port of Wan Pon in Tachilek, a JCCCN member was quoted as saying.

The Wan Pon port checkpoint from the Myanmar side was upgraded on Jan. 29 this year along with Ban Muang Mom checkpoint from the Lao side to meet international standard to boost arrivals of world tourists and those from the third countries visiting the two border areas.

Myanmar, a member of the six-country GMS-Economic Cooperation, has worked for closer economic ties together with other members of the grouping by taking part in the implementation of the GMS program.

Initiated by the Asian Development Bank, the GMS-Economic Cooperation was founded in 1992 to bring together China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam along the Mekong river.

Since then, Myanmar has joined in signing several GMS agreements, under which the six participating countries have prioritized some 100 projects in eight sectors including investment, trade, transport, tourism, telecommunications, energy, environment and human resources development.

Covered by the Mekong project in the transport sector, Myanmar has implemented projects of Lashio-Muse road, Lashio-Hsipaw-Loilem- Kengtung road and Tachilek-Kengtung-Mongla road.

Aimed at developing the international passenger and cargo transportation, trade and tourism on the Lancang-Mekong river, Myanmar joined three other countries located in the upper reaches of the Mekong river – China, Laos and Thailand, in signing a commercial navigation agreement in April 2000 in Myanmar's Tachilek.

Under the agreement, which provides for vessels of any signatory country to sail freely between Simao in China and Luangprabang in Laos, Myanmar opened two ports along with three other signatories for the move. The Lancang-Mekong international waterway was officially opened to commercial navigation in June 2001.

Myanmar also joined five other GMS nations in signing an agreement and a protocol in April 2004 in Phnom Penh with regard to cross-border transportation.

The 4,500-km Mekong river originates from China's Qinghai and runs through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam down to South China Sea near Ho Chi Minh city.

The GMS has a combined land area of nearly 2.3 million square- km and home to more than 250 million people.