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Planned major Mekong bridge via Laos to link China, Thailand
Posted: 21 June 2007 2253 hrs

MANILA : China, Thailand and Laos on Thursday agreed to build a bridge across the Mekong River that will directly link Yunnan province with Bangkok by road, the Asian Development Bank said.

To be completed in 2011, the bridge will be jointly financed by Beijing and Bangkok, the Manila-based lender said without giving other details.

The bridge will cross the Mekong between Chiang Khong, in northern Thailand, and Houayxay in Laos.

It will be the third to be built under a 15 year-old regional cooperation programme to link the economies of Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

"When this vital bridge is completed, it will be possible for the first time to travel by land directly from Yunnan, China, through Laos to Thailand," said ADB vice president Lawrence Greenwood.

This would open up "tremendous potential for increased trade, tourism and the further integration of the Mekong region," he said in a statement.

It is the final link in a north-south road system through the Mekong region being developed by nations in the area and the ADB since the Greater Mekong Sub-region initiative was launched in 1992.

The Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation Program was launched in 1992 with the aid of the ADB, which wanted to boost economic growth and reduce poverty levels in the area.

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Bangkok to be linked by road to China soon

MANILA, June 21 (Reuters Life!) - A road will directly link Thailand's capital Bangkok to southwestern China within four years, under an agreement signed on Thursday.

Thailand, China and Laos have agreed to build a bridge over the Mekong River on the Laos/Thailand border and complete the road link to Yunnan province in southwestern China.

The project would complete the north-south road system through the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), a growth area promoted by Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, and the Manila-based Asian Development Bank.

The new bridge, which would be completed by 2011, would be financed by the Chinese and Thai governments, the ADB said in a statement.

Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary general of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development and one of the pioneers of the GMS group, told reporters that the countries in the region now needed to revamp border and customs rules to reap the benefit of the physical links.

Exports of the countries in the greater Mekong region have quadrupled to $182 billion in 2006 from $37 billion in 1992 when regional integration was launched.

Annual tourist arrivals more than doubled to more than 22 million in 2006 from 10 million in 1995.

"What we've done is to replace the tanks and troops with trade and tourism," C. Lawrence Greenwood, ADB vice president told reporters referring to the Mekong region.
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