Efforts to advance Mekong-Republic of Korea Partnership were reaffirmed today following the signing of the memorandum of understanding between of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea (ROK) and Mekong Institute (MI).
“Regional cooperation mechanisms such as the Mekong-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund (MKCF) are critical for the integration and sustainable development of the region,” Mr. Suriyan Vichitlekarn, MI’s Executive Director said, before underscoring that it is “MI's privilege to continue the management of MKCF. It is an honor to partner with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROK to ensure that MKCF projects will be efficiently implemented as guided by the Mekong-ROK Partnership.”
The ROK-MI Partnership will see MI extend its role and position as MKCF’s fund manager and implementing agency for the next action plan of 2020 to 2025. Beginning in 2013, MI has been overseeing the implementation of 20 projects and providing technical support to Project Implementing Agencies in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and ROK. These have strengthened capacities in applying information communication technology for market expansion, designing greener growth models for economic and environmental advancement, improving water resource management, facilitating a regional agriculture value chain, and deepening regional cooperation through education, skills development, trade and business.
To date, seven projects were successfully completed and 13 more are in different stages of implementation.
“We are happy to inform that representatives of the 10th Mekong-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting extended their appreciation of MI’s contributions in deepening Mekong-ROK cooperation,” said Mr. Park Jae-Kyung, Director-General, ASEAN and Southeast Asian Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROK, during the ceremony.
By helping strengthen the foundation for economic growth, social progress, and cultural development, ROK has provided US$ 9,403,168 thus far in grants to projects that support national priorities of the five Mekong countries and ROK and deliver shared benefits in the region. In 2019, ROK has also increased its annual contributions from US$ 1 million to US$ 2 million to the Fund.
Nine years after its inception in 2011, the Mekong-ROK cooperation is considered among the most dynamic in the region for its commitment in delivering a systematic and pragmatic support to deepen cooperation as outlined in the “Mekong-Han River Declaration for Establishing Partnership for People, Prosperity, and Peace.”
Through varying degrees, MKCF projects have not only fostered stronger collaboration among governments, the private sector, the academe, and non-government organizations in each Mekong country, these also deepened networking and synergy as evidenced by the steady rise of bilateral and multilateral relations between and among Mekong countries to advance Mekong-ROK Partnership.
Such cooperation was further cemented in 2019 when the Mekong-ROK Partnership was elevated to summit level. This historic milestone positioned ROK in the same realm as Japan and the People’s Republic of China as being the only countries that have summit-level consultative mechanisms with the Mekong region.
With the upgrade of MKCF’s scale and scope, MKCF will support more catalytic and innovative initiatives in seven priority areas: culture and tourism; human resources development; agriculture and rural development; infrastructure; information and communication technology; environment; and non-traditional security challenges to narrow the development gap and further enhance regional connectivity.
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