China and the five other GMS countries are working together to improve transportation networks' efficiency in the area to facilitate smoother economic cooperation within the GMS and facilitate the emergence of a free trade zone between China and ASEAN.
Highlights of the transportation sector of GMS cooperation so far include the Kunming-Bangkok Road and the Upper-Mekong River Navigation Channel Improvement project.
China has also joined the Agreement for Facilitation of Cross-Border Transport of Goods and People.
The projects and the implementation of the agreement will be of great significance to public transportation, trade between China and the other five members and to the development of tourism.
The Kunming-Bangkok Road is a key GMS project and will form a new road link between China and ASEAN.
The Laos section of the road network has been a bottleneck.
China will provide a grant of 50 million yuan (US$6 million) and 199 million (US$24 million) in interest-free loans to finance completion of the section. Construction is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2003.
Thailand and the ADB have also signed agreements with Laos to participate in building parts of the road in that country.
China also plans to spend 17.3 billion yuan (US$2.1 billion) to build the Chinese part of the Kunming-Bangkok Road.
The major part of the section has been finished and is already open to traffic. The entire domestic section is expected be completed by 2007.
The Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Transport of Goods and People is designed to foster simplification of cross-border procedures, road signs, custom inspection and vehicle administration and lower transport prices.
It is aimed to promote smoother transportation of people and goods and improve efficiency of the road networks of the region.
The agreement is now in its framework stage and all sides involved will work on technical additions and accords that will clarify details of the agreement.
China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand reached an agreement in 2000 to co-operate in the working out of navigation facilities and rules for the Lancang River (Mekong). China provided US$5 million for the clearing of snags in the navigation channel along the Myanmar-Laos border, and the work has been progressing smoothly.
Navigation safety on the river has been greatly improved.
Experts say they believe the work will have no negative impact on the river's ecosystem.
(China Daily September 15, 2003)