China, Mekong countries have huge potential for cooperation

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BEIJING, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- China and five Mekong River countries have huge potential for economic and trade cooperation, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Thursday.

Trade between China and the five Mekong countries, which include Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, has seen rapid growth, MOC spokesperson Gao Feng said at a press conference.

"In the first 11 months of 2017, the trade volume between China and the Mekong countries reached 200.9 billion U.S. dollars, up 16 percent year on year, higher than the overall growth rate of China's foreign trade, indicating huge potential," Gao said.

China is increasing investment in Mekong countries, with direct investment in the non-financial sector up 25 percent year on year to reach 3.2 billion U.S. dollars, according to Gao.

China is the largest source of foreign investment for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and the third and fourth-biggest source for Thailand and Vietnam in 2017, respectively, said Gao.

Chinese enterprises have also made progress in constructing economic and trade cooperation zones in as well as infrastructure cooperation with the Mekong countries, according to Gao.

"China is Cambodia's biggest trading partner and largest source of imports, and the value of bilateral trade reached 5.27 billion U.S. dollars in the first 11 months of 2017, achieving the annual goal of 5 billion U.S. dollars set by leaders of the two countries in advance," Gao said.

As the largest source of foreign investment for Cambodia, China's investment reached 12.57 billion U.S. dollars by the end of October last year, accounting for more than one-third of the country's total, data from the Council for the Development of Cambodia showed.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attended Wednesday the second Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) leaders' meeting in Cambodia, which approved a five-year action plan (2018-2022), charting the course for the LMC's development into the next decade.

Initiated by China in 2014, the LMC framework spans connectivity, production capacity, cross-border economic cooperation, water resources management, and agriculture and poverty reduction.

The first LMC leaders' meeting was held in Sanya of China's Hainan Province in March 2016. The Lancang River originates on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in southwestern China. It is called the Mekong River as it flows through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before emptying into the sea.

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