The Economic Cooperation Strategy Plan of Action (ESCPA) is a series of plan of action to realize the goals of the Ayeyawaddy-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) adopted at the 1st ACMECS Summit in Bagan 2003. Thus far, there have been four Plans of Action: the first covering the years between 2003 and 2005; the second from 2006 to 2008; the third from 2010 to 2012; and the fourth from 2013 to 2015.
As with previous ACMECS Plans of Action, the Plan of Action 2016-2018 will conform to the Bagan Declaration and the Declarations of all succeeding ACMECS Summits as well as continue to reflect the current circumstances, priorities and needs of the ACMECS Countries. It is an updated version of the ACMECS Plan of Action 2006 and it’s meant to guide ACMECS cooperation forward towards the year 2018, The overarching aim of this current Plan remains to promote the creation of single production base in the ACMECS Countries, particularly along the border areas, that will support the greater ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and to enhance trade, investment and transport facilitation.
In recognition of the continuing need to promote economic cooperation among the ACMECS Countries, especially in the context of the coming AEC, we will implement the following initiatives in the eight priority cooperation areas, and two additional issues, as follows:
- Trade and Investment Facilitation
The objective is to expand trade and investment—among the ACMECS Countries, and improve the flow of goods and services as well as to encourage investment along the border areas, thereby creating jobs, increasing income, reducing socio-economic disparities, and increasing the competitiveness of the ACMECS Countries as a whole in the AEC.
- Foster banking facilities, such as branches and financial services, of ACMECS Countries in order to facilitate cross-border trade transactions, including greater relaxation of relevant rules and regulations to promote the use of local currencies for trade and investment transactions;
- Enhance trade and investment facilitation by accelerating the expansion of the One-Stop Service centers and Single-Stop Inspection as well as simplifying and harmonizing customs, immigration and Sanitary and People-Sanitary (SPS) procedures at the existing checkpoints; expand and implement Single Stop Inspection at international border checkpoints of ACMECS countries so that they can become a network of Single Stop Inspection Connectivity to facilitate trade, investment, tourism and transportation;
- Upgrade the potential temporary checkpoints to be international checkpoints among the ACMECS Countries, where appropriate;
- Enhance transparency and simplify rules, regulations, and procedures relating to trade and investment, including rules on (a) licensing, (b) access to domestic finance, (c) payments and receipts, (d) repatriation of profits by investors, (e) import and export and re-export procedures (f) rules of origin documents;
- Increase capacity building of the officials at the border checkpoints by training, exchanging information and sharing best practices;
- Promote cooperation on joint trade and investment promotion events, trade fairs, and exhibitions amongst the ACMECS Countries, especially among the provinces along the borders. The organizing countries should consider providing special support to the participating countries on a case by case basis, such as complementary booths and other auxiliary support;
- Strengthen the ongoing exchange of trade and investment information as well as cooperation with the ACMECS Business Council;
- Encourage implementation of the Agreement for the Promotion and Protection of Investments, as well as the negotiation and implementation of the Agreements for the Avoidance of Double Taxation amongst the ACMECS Countries;
- We recognize that rice is a critical staple for people throughout the region and the world. In order to sustain rice production and food security within the region, the modality and terms of reference of ACMECS rice cooperation should be adopted as a matter of urgency in the relevant forum Cooperation among the ACMECS countries will help to assure that there is enough supply of food to our people in the region and throughout the world and will also help to prevent food price crisis in the future.
- Agricultural Cooperation
The objective is to strengthen agricultural cooperation by increasing productivity, improving market access, promoting joint production, research and development, and information sharing in agriculture, livestock, fisheries and forestry amongst the ACMECS Countries, so that they can become regional and global suppliers of agricultural produce.
- Exchange information on cross-border trade of agricultural and forestry products;
- Enhance cooperation in technology transfer in agricultural production especially rice and potential crops to increase productivity, to ensure food security and food safety and agricultural processing to add value to the products through the existing agricultural cooperation;
- Promote and strengthen joint research and development of potential crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry commodities amongst the ACMECS Countries;
- Enhance cooperation to address the National Zero Hunger Challenge amongst ACMECS countries to achieve Sustainable Development Goals;
- Encourage and promote the further development of bilateral and multilateral Contract Farming to generate employment and increase the welfare of farmers, increase production as well as contribute to the increase in regional and international trade in agricultural products, and to promote food security and greater investment by private actors.
- Industrial and Energy Cooperation
The objective is to promote ACMECS industrial and energy cooperation through the establishment and improvement of infrastructure facilities in industrial areas, and the efficient joint utilization of ACMECS Countries’ resources, especially by industries along the border areas, including in Special and Specific Economic Zones. The following actions shall ensure energy security while, at the same time, support environmentally-sustainable economic development:
- Enhance the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and strengthen the promotion of best practices and appropriate standards;
- Develop and expand the energy mix in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly manner by, for example, increasing the development and optimal utilization of renewable energy resources, including biomass, biofuels, solar, wind, hydro, and other locally-available energy;
- Promote the development of power transmission lines and networks across the ACMECS Countries and beyond;
- Promote clustered networking and strategic alliances with the private sector to develop investment opportunities and the growth of entrepreneurial skill.
- Strengthen investment in industrial infrastructure, particularly supporting logistic industries as well as Special and Specific Economic Zones along the economic corridors and the inter-corridor linkages and supporting the local industries in terms of technically, marketing strategies and inducement for Foreign Investment.
- Promote and enhance the competitiveness of ACMECS SMEs and to enter into the Global Supply Chains with sustainable manner by raising investments in infrastructure, promoting custom performance on exports and imports, harmonizing standardization on rules and regulations, facilitating their access to information, finances, technology and the relevant capacity building as well as promotion of SMEs along the border areas and making effort for enhancing cluster development and reducing tariff barriers among ACMECS countries.
- Setting up entrepreneurial network of business cooperation and exchange business information and services among ACMECS countries.
- Encourage cooperation in other potentially industrial sectors such as mining and mineral exploitation, sustainable hydropower development, oil and gas exploration, chemical, mechanical, production and food processing, and textile.., and enhance cooperation to exchange information and technologies, and to develop joint research in the fields of industry and energy.
- Transport Linkages
The objective is to maximize use of the existing transport linkages among the ACMECS Countries by emphasizing 1) further development of the software side of connectivity by harmonising transport related procedures to facilitate cross-border transport within the sub-region and 2) the completion of missing links and feeder roads.
The enhancement of sub-regional connectivity will increase the sub-region’s attractiveness as a single production, investment, and tourism destination, leading to an increase in overall economic activity in the sub-region, and finally contributing to the realization of the AEC by the end of 2015.
- Enhance the “software” side of connectivity in the sub-region by encouraging the full ratification of all annexes and protocols of the GMS Cross-Border Transport Agreement (CBTA);
- Support the extension of current economic corridors and additional potential routes, including Routes No.8 and 12 under the MOU on Trilateral (Lao PDR-Thailand-Viet Nam) Arrangement or GMS-CBTA to cover major areas of economic activities in the sub-region in order to maximize the use of “economic” corridors by increasing trade, investment and tourism flows;
- Enhance facilitation to bilateral and multilateral agreements/arrangements on road transport and exchanges of traffic rights;
- Continue to promote developments and investments in transport linkages, particularly in the remaining missing links, by our self-help contribution or cooperation with the development partners;
- Promote the participation of the private sector in different forms of cooperation, including Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in transport infrastructure linkage development; and
- Advance technical cooperation and share best practices in areas related to transport linkages both on hardware and software expertise.
- Tourism Cooperation
The objective is to promote joint strategies for sustainable, socially, environmentally responsible tourism among the ACMECS Countries in order to facilitate travel intra-regionally and increase the attractiveness of the sub-region as one of the world’s tourism destinations.
- Promote the realization of the “Five Countries, One Destination” concept, joint tourism marketing and promotion schemes;
- Encourage the utilization of the existing tourism arrangements among the ACMECS countries such as Thailand-Lao PDR- Viet Nam Operation of Tourism Road Transport as well as develop new “Tourism Corridor” (Bagan-Chiang Mai- Luangprabang-Vientiane-Siem Reap-Hue);
- Continue to improve the respective ACMECS Countries’ tourism websites and information database;
- Further develop various forms of tourism products, thereby not only ensuring that natural and cultural resources are preserved, but also that they can be showcased to tourists, and cultural and historical theme tourism packages taking the visitor through a number of the ACMECS Countries;
- Promote human resource developnient in the tourism sector, with priority given to programmes and projects for skills training in community-based tourism development, tour guides, marketing, tourism planning and management;
- Promote tourist safety in the ACMECS destinations; and
- Encourage more involvement of the private sector and development partners in tourism development cooperation.
- Human Resource Development
The ACMECS Countries shall cooperate to continue to enhance the well-being and livelihood of their peoples as well as the effectiveness of their institutions through capacity-building, focusing in particular on the labour force so as to increase their competitiveness within the single production base under the AEC.
- Encourage partnership and cooperation in the development of human resource capacity among academic institutions, in particular among higher education and vocational training institutions in the ACMECS Countries;
- Increase the number of scholarship and fellowship programmes in all sectors of ACMECS cooperation;
- Promote the development of an integrated ACMECS Human Resource Development Strategy with a view to increasing the competitiveness of the sub-region as a whole;
- Encourage the participation of development partners in ACMECS training projects and the provision of financial and technical assistance for the ACMECS Countries in the various sectors of cooperation;
- Enhance cooperation on the development of competency standards and a skills certification system among the ACMECS Countries;
- Encourage the establishment, on both the bilateral and multilateral levels and with the involvement of the private sector, of skills training institutes for the labour force, especially along the border areas in the context of Special and Specific Economic Zones;
- Establish a labour market information network including forecasting of labour market trends;
- Share experiences in managing overseas workers with the support of receiving countries as well as in protecting migrant workers; and
- Promote joint research projects/programmes among higher education /research institution of ACMECS Countries.
- Public Health
The objective is to forge closer national and regional cooperation at all levels, within ACMECS and with other regional cooperation frameworks, such as ASEAN+3 Field Epidemiology Training Network (FETN), GMS and the Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance Cooperation (MBDS), to prevent and control the spread of infectious diseases by enhancing national and regional preparedness and response capacity through integrated approaches.
- Build up national and regional surveillance and response capacity, including laboratory capacity both in human and animal sectors;
- Facilitate information sharing on infectious disease surveillance, prevention and control through the International Health Regulation (2005) National Focal Point existing information sharing system and network;
- Promote prevention and control of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases in cross-border areas;
- Strengthen cooperation among the ACMECS Countries and with other existing regional frameworks, such as ASEAN+3 FETN, GMS and MBDS, on human capacity building, information sharing and disease surveillance, prevention and control at cross-border checkpoints, taking into account the core capacity requirements under the International Health Regulation (2005) for designated airports, ports and ground-crossings;
- Advance national coordinating epidemic preparedness plans of the ACMECS Countries, particularly at border provinces and border checkpoints;
- Cooperate on migrant health issues such as prevention and control of HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria among ACMECS countries;
- Improve Nutrition, reduce hidden hunger due to micronutrient deficiencies and stunting through implementation of coherent policies and better coordinated actions among ACMECS countries;
- Promote long term sustainable strategies for healthy nation such as Food fortification (e.g. rice fortification, home fortification by micronutrient sprinkles, salt iodisation) and empower people and create an enabling environment for making informed choices about food products for healthy dietary practices and appropriate infant and young child feeding practices.
- Environmental Cooperation
The main objective is to ensure that economic activities undertaken in the ACMECS Countries are sustainable and environmentally-friendly, in accordance with the green growth imperative.
- Assess the ecological health and environmental status of the Ayeyawaddy, Chao Phraya, and Mekong rivers;
- Integrate environmental management plan into all ACMECS programmes on economic development so as to bring about green growth;
- Promote trans-boundary environmental impact assessment activities and the commitment of the ACMECS Countries to resolving trans-boundary environmental issues;
- Promote environmental protection campaigns for the region’s tourist sites with a view to supporting the ACMECS concept of “Five Countries, One Destination” under the Tourism programme.
- Strengthen the ACMECS Countries commitment to the environmental protection of tourist sites and develop guidelines for their protection and management;
- Formulate a mechanism to cooperate and coordinate with all of the envirorunent7related platforms in existing regional cooperation frameworks, such as the GMS and the MRC etc;
- Promote commitments of the ACMECS Countries on environmental protection biodiversity conservation and reasonable use of natural resources as well as the integration of those commitments into their national plans and policies;
- Consider enhancing cooperation among the ACMECS Countries on measures to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation, taking into account current efforts in this area;
- Raise awareness and develop capacity building programmes on the environmental governance and conservation;
- Build a network of leading environmental institutions in the region and formulate exchange programmes among different environmental institutions in different areas, particularly to exploit the strengths of each institution with a view to supporting each other; and promoting cooperation on environmental research among universities in the ACMECS Countries;
- Establish a sub-regional database on the environment and related themes;
- Encourage local people to participate in biodiversity preservation through organization at the community level in order to develop eco-tourism as a means of generating income; and
- Promote cooperation on disaster risk management among the ACMECS Countries.
- Development Partners
- The ACMECS Countries appreciate the development partners for their increasing engagement with the ACMECS Countries or the five countries of the Mekong region through Mekong-Japan, Lower Mekong Initiative, Friends of Lower Mekong, Mekong-Ganga Cooperation and Mekong-ROK Cooperation frameworks. The ACMECS Countries encourage coordination and cooperation among major donors and development partners for avoidance of overlapping activities and more effective resource mobilisation.
- The ACMECS Countries will submit the details of their respective projects to the ACMECS Chair for compilation and submission to major donor countries and development partners for funding support.
- Engagement with Local Communities
The ACMECS Countries will aim to encourage participation from local communities, especially in the border provinces, to promote cross-border trade, investment and tourism that will lead to the betterment of the local communities in the ACMECS Countries.
- Promote investment in industrial infrastructure in the Special and Specific Economic Zones in order to enhance cooperation and development of border provinces, which will help accelerate the implementation of ACMECS cooperation on facilitation and promotion of trade, investment, and tourism;
- Encourage the establishment of Sister Cities and the cooperation arrangements among border provinces to promote dialogue among provincial authorities in the implementation of ACMECS projects and cooperation;
- Promote the establishment of trade and commerce associations and encourage cooperation among the local trade, industry and banking associations of the ACMECS Countries;
- Facilitate information-sharing and networking between existing SMEs and Agricultural Cooperatives in strategic areas of cooperation within local communities;
- Promote the participation of local communities in major projects and activities along the economic corridors; and
- Promote sub-contracting in the supply-chain manufacturing and service sectors to local communities to generate income and upgrade living standards of ACMECS.
The sectoral Working Group in each area of cooperation shall formulate a series of projects aimed at facilitating implementation of the ACMECS Plan of Action 2016-2018, which the ACMECS Countries shall thereafter carry out; organize annual meetings and conferences among the ACMECS Countries to validate results achieved during a year and plan for the next year.
In addition, the Coordinating Countries regularly report on the progress made in their respective sectors of cooperation in the implementation of the Plan of Action to the ACMECS Countries through diplomatic channels.
The ACMECS Plan of Action 2016-2018 was adopted by the ACMECS Leaders at the 6th ACMECS Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, on 23 June 2015.