Congratulatory Message by His Excellency Saleumxay KOMMASITH
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
On the occasion of the 7th Anniversary of the Establishment of Mekong-Lancang Cooperation
(23 March 2016 - 23 March 2023)
Today, 23 March 2023, marks the 7th anniversary of the establishment of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC). On behalf of the Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations and salutations to all Government and people of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) on this auspicious occasion of the 7th Anniversary of Mekong-Lancang Cooperation.
The launch of the MLC has been motivated by the linkage of MLC countries by mountains, share driver, culture similarities, good neighbourliness and bond of friendship and cooperation. Drinking water from the same river, the MLC countries are as one family living in a community with a shared future. Enhancing mutually beneficial cooperation is both conducive to our interests and contribution to each other success, as it will boost our socio-economic development, improve people's well-being and cement the foundation for regional prosperity and stability.
Since the establishment of MLC in 2016 with an aim of shared future for peace and prosperity, it has significantly contributed to deepening practical cooperation across the board, promoting mutual trust, advancing socio-economic development, broadening common interests and strengthening good-neighbourliness with a view to enhancing people's well-being, narrowing the development gap and supporting ASEAN Community building by effectively implementing cooperation projects and programes under the three pillars, namely (1) Political and Security, (2) Economic and Sustainable Development, and (3) Social, Cultural and People to People Exchanges, and five key priority areas, comprising (1) Connectivity, (2) Production Capacity, (3) Cross-border Economic Cooperation, (4) Water Resources, and (5) Agriculture and Poverty Reduction.
Over the past seven years, the MLC has enjoyed deepening political trust and sound cooperation through the establishment of comprehensive bilateral strategic partnerships and multilateral coordination in the region and international framework in boosting peace, stability and development of the region and the world at large. The MLC has made remarkable achievements reflecting reality and specific regional development in the Mekong region, various MLC-led cooperation mechanisms have been established, including six priority Working Groups, the MLC Special Fund, to which China has contributed USD 300 million, as well as the establishment of the MLC National Secretariat serving as the Coordination Unit in all six member countries with a view to facilitating coordination and collaboration amongst relevant authorities to ensure effective and efficient MLC cooperation and implementation of outcome documents adopted by the MLC Leaders and the Plan of Action in order to bring about tangible benefits to the region.
The MLC puts people first by increasing their well-being, the MLC Special Fund has heavily invested in improving people's lives and has sponsored over 400 programes and projects in health, education, poverty reduction and women's welfare. The Fund has supported 40,000-plus training opportunities for people in the Mekong countries. Since the establishment of the Fund projects in 2017, the Lao PDR has received a total of 68 approved projects with a total amount of about 18 million USD. Currently, 20 projects were completed, and 48 projects are ongoing. All MLC’s projects and programes have significantly contributed to the socio-economic development of the Lao PDR.
In recent years, the MLC and other regions in the world continue to face challenges, including rapid changes of geopolitical landscape, economic and financial crisis, the COVID-19, climate change, energy and food security, amongst others. Against this backdrop, the MLC member have further deepened their cooperation to enhance their economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as to address others challenges so as to continue effectively implement the Five-Year Plan of Action, the outcome of the 7th MLC Foreign Ministers' Meeting, in 2022, the Joint Press Communiqué of the 7th MLC Foreign Ministers' Meeting, the Joint Statement on Deepening Agricultural Cooperation and Ensuring Food Security, the Joint Statement on Deepening Exchanges and Mutual Learning among Civilizations, the Joint Statement on Deepening Customs Cooperation to secure Trade and Facilitate Clearance, etc.
I strongly believe that the MLC will be further developed to enhance closer partnership between Mekong countries and China, thereby advancing the MLC as the region of long-lasting peace, sustainable development and prosperity while contributing to the ASEAN Community building and the implementation of the Belt-Road Initiative (BRI), South-South Cooperation and the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The Lao PDR, as a founding member of the MLC, will continue its close cooperation with Mekong countries and China by participating in MLC’s activities and jointly and effectively implementing MLC projects and programes to bring about mutual benefits of all MLC members.