The grouping brings together various nations of the Rivers Ganga and Mekong region for economic cooperation. The proposal for the formation of the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) was finalized by the foreign ministers of the six members at the sidelines of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in Bangkok, Thailand, in July 2000. The grouping was formally launched on November 10, 2000, in Vientiane, Laos, after the Vientiane Declaration, outlining the basic theme of the Cooperation, was signed by ministers representing the six member-countries.
Mekong Ganga Cooperation Objectives
The MGC aims at developing closer relations and better understanding among the member-countries to enhance friendship, solidarity and cooperation; facilitating inter-state movement and transit transport of goods and people in the region; creating necessary infrastructural facilities in the Ganga-Mekong basin areas, and encouraging active participation in poverty eradication.
Mekong Ganga Cooperation Structure
The institutional structure of the MGC is yet to evolve properly. According to a preliminary concept paper approved by the MGC, Ministerial Meetings would be held annually back-to-back with the AMMs. The chairmanship will be rotated in alphabetical order. The country which serves as chair shall act as the Secretariat to carry out coordination and implementation of the Cooperation plan.
Mekong Ganga Cooperation Activities
The inaugural meet in November 2000 identified tourism, culture and the development of human resources as the first steps on a road that will lead to greater networking of communications, transport and infrastructure development. In the tourism field, the MGC is committed to conducting strategic studies for joint marketing, launching the Mekong-Ganga Tourism Investment Guide, facilitating the travel of the people in the region, expanding multimodal communication as well as transportation links to improve travel and tourism and promoting cultural-religious package tours. In the field of infrastructure development, member-countries are committed to develop transport networks, especially the “East-West Corridor” and the “Trans-Asian Highway”. When completed, the Asian highway project is expected to link Singapore with New Delhi in South Asia via Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Vientiane, Chiang Mal, Yangon, Mandalay, Kalemyo, Tamu, Dhaka and Kolkata. Other areas of cooperation include air services and linkages and IT infrastructure and networks. In the field of culture, the grouping is to undertake joint research in the field of music, dance and theatre forms and conduct roundtables for writers, journalists and experts in various fields such as literature, health, women’s empowerment, performing arts and nutrition. Focus also to be given to the conservation, preservation and protection of heritage sites and artifacts. Cooperation is also envisaged in the establishment of networking and twinning arrangements among universities in the region; transition of classics of MGC countries into other MGC languages; and participation of member-countries in book fairs on a commercial basis.