Driving Regional Prosperity in Southeast Asia

In the heart of Southeast Asia, the Ayeyawady, Chao Phraya, and Mekong rivers converge, binding Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam in a shared vision of economic cooperation and sustainable development. Established in 2003, the Ayeyawady – Chao Phraya – Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) emerged from the Special ASEAN Summit on SARS, culminating in the historic Bagan Declaration. This foundational document set forth to increasing capacities, generating growth, creating employment opportunities and narrowing economic and development gaps between all Member Countries.

Driving Regional Prosperity in Southeast Asia

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Key Insights

  • Introduction: Established in 2003 to foster economic cooperation among countries connected by the Ayeyawady, Chao Phraya, and Mekong rivers.
  • Establishment: Emerged from the Special ASEAN Summit on SARS in Bangkok, April 29, 2003, culminating in the Bagan Declaration on November 12, 2003, in Myanmar.
  • Core Objectives: Increasing capacities, generating growth, creating employment opportunities and narrowing economic and development gaps between all Member Countries.
  • Areas of Cooperation: Multidimension connectivity
  • Master Plan 2019-2023: Focuses on sustainable development, technological innovation, and regional integration.
  • Future Prospects: The “connector” to bridge and align strategic interests of the sub-region’s architecture with Mekong-led development agendas in Enhancing regional cooperation amidst global uncertainties.

From Concept to Reality: The Birth of ACMECS

ACMECS, founded in 2003, aims to stimulate economic cooperation and development among countries connected by the Ayeyawady, Chao Phraya, and Mekong rivers. Originating from the Special ASEAN Summit on SARS, the Bagan Declaration in 2003 formalized ACMECS’s commitment to economic growth, social progress, and cultural development through collaborative efforts among Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Expansion and support from key global development partners have further strengthened ACMECS’s impact.

The Establishment of ACMECS

Building ACMECS’s Foundation: The Bagan Declaration 

The Bagan Declaration, adopted at the summit, laid the groundwork for ACMECS, emphasizing principles to enhance competitiveness, facilitate industry relocation, create employment, and promote peace and stability across member countries. This foundational document set the stage for cooperation in Trade and Investment Facilitation, Agricultural and Industrial Cooperation, Transport Linkages, Tourism Cooperation, and Human Resources Development. The plan outlined 42 common projects and 224 bilateral projects, aimed at fostering regional development with support from loans, grants, and technical assistance.

The Bagan Declaration

Vision 2023: ACMECS Master Plan for a Dynamic Future

At the 8th ACMECS Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, on June 16, 2018, member countries adopted the ACMECS Master Plan 2019-2023, focusing on sustainable development, technological innovation, and regional integration. The plan is structured around three pillars:

  1. Seamless ACMECS: Promoting connectivity through multi-modal transport links.
  2. Synchronized ACMECS: Enhancing software connectivity, focusing on trade, investment, industrial cooperation, and financial integration.
  3. Smart and Sustainable ACMECS: Developing human capital in strategic areas to ensure long-term sustainability and growth.

Click here to view ACMECS Master Plan: Seamless ACMECS, Synchronized ACMECS, and Smart and Sustainable ACMECS.

Expanding Horizons: Engagement with the Development Partners 

ACMECS acts as the “connector” to bridge and align strategic interests of the sub-region’s architecture with Mekong-led development agendas in setting direction for cooperation. ACMECS also promotes constructive engagement with six development partners, namely, Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States.

ACMECS exemplifies sub-regional cooperation within ASEAN, navigating challenges and seizing opportunities through strategic initiatives and partnerships. As a dynamic force in a globalized world, ACMECS continues to pave the way towards shared prosperity and sustainable growth.

Fisherman of mekong river in action when fishing of sunrise

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