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Mekong Countries Move Toward More Integration

Cambodian Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh speaks during the 17th GMS Ministerial Conference at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh August 4, 2011. Representatives from the six participating countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation

The countries of the lower Mekong River are moving toward greater integration, but Cambodia’s commerce minister said Thursday the country is ill prepared.

Ministers from Burma, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam met in Phnom Penh to discuss a second phase of economic cooperation under and Asian Development Bank program.

The plan calls for an “economic corridor” linking the Greater Mekong countries and investment in urban and rural areas alike.

However, Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said at the meeting that Cambodia “faces challenges.”

“We have inadequate resources to develop a number of infrastructure projects,” he said. “We need more money for infrastructure development, and we lack human resources.”

The six countries said in a statement they would “need to continue to innovate, to seek new frontiers of cooperation” and would cooperate “to address the challenges ahead.”