The seven strategic pillars denote the key focus areas that are expected to produce the most significant economic and social impact on the IMT-GT subregion. These pillars are divided into three Lead Focus Areas that are supported by four Enablers.
The Lead Focus Areas comprise the Agriculture & Agro Based Industry, Tourism, and Halal Products and Services Pillars. It is intended that they will spearhead IMT-GT cooperation and integration for the next two decades. These lead focus areas were selected based on careful evaluation of the comparative and competitive advantage ofthe subregion.
The four Enablers will support the Lead Focus Areas and comprise the Transport and ICT Connectivity, Trade and Investment Facilitation, Environment, and Human Resource Development, Education and Culture Pillars.
Working Group of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry
IMT-GT has a large agriculture sector, providing jobs and income for a significant number of households in the subregion. The sector is the largest contributor to the GDP of Thailand-GT and Indonesia-GT. Reflecting the subregion’s competitive advantage in agricultural production, its Member Countries are among the top palm oil producers in the world. The subregion accounts for over 70 percent of the world’s total rubber plantation areas with Thailand as the world’s largest natural rubber producer. IMT-GT’s geographic advantage contributes to the high annual fish production, making it a major player in the global market. IMT-GT’s relative strength also lies in rice farming, fresh fruits growing, processed marine products, and various types of agro-based light manufacturing.
Working Group of Transport and ICT Connectivity
IMT-GT has a long history of transport cooperation, its experience in ICT cooperation is relatively recent. ICT is viewed as an important driver of subregional connectivity and an effective enabler for accelerating the transformation of the subregion’s economy towards knowledge-intensive and inclusive growth.
There is notable progress in the expansion of physical transport infrastructure along the five priority economic corridors of IMT-GT, including the addition of new roads, CIQ facilities sea ports, air ports and inland ports. To date, the physical aspect of the IMT-GT transport network is reasonably well configured and linked. The logical next step is to put in place a regulatory framework that governs and facilitates cross-border movement of vehicles and passengers.
In this regard, the next five-year (2017-2021) goal of the Transport Connectivity Focus Area is to establish a seamless, inclusive. sustainable, safe and secured network of inter-connected transport corridors in IMT-GT.
Working Group of Halal Products and Services
The IMT-GT tourism industry is its cultural diversity, natural beauty and unique ecosystem. This coupled with the improvement in transport connectivity and tourism infrastructure has made IMT-GT one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Places like Medan, Palembang, Penang, Melaka, Phuket and Krabi have always been among the biggest draws for visitors to IMT-GT. The strength of the sector is manifested by the steady growth in domestic visitor arrivals.
With the right interventions, the industry can contribute significantly to the sustainable development and inclusive goals of Vision 2036.
Each IMT-GT member country has its own strengths when it comes to developing the Halal economy. Indonesia has a huge internal Halal market given the fact that it has the world’s largest Muslim population and Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. It is also an important raw material source. Malaysia has a relatively developed Halal ecosystem and a strong Halal brand. Thailand’s strength lies in its Halal science and technology. All three IMT governments give strong support to promoting their respective Halal industry. Building on each other’s strengths, such as through sharing of knowledge and best practices, technology transfer, developing cross-border value chains, and acceptance of Halal standards, the subregion has strong potential to becoming an important Halal hub.
Working Group on Environment
IMT-GT is highly vulnerable to climate change as a large proportion of its population and economic activity is concentrated along the coastlines. The subregion relies heavily on agriculture for livelihoods and has built its export industries around natural resources. However, as the findings of the Comprehensive Review of the IMT-GT Strategy have shown, the subregion’s natural resources and biodiversity are under severe pressures from years of exploitation and extraction. Its natural areas are increasingly fragmented within a matrix of human-dominated landscapes and seascapes. This fragmentation affects the movement of species and the flow of ecological processes critical for the provision of ecosystem services that are vital to the well-being of the people.
Working Group on Human Resource Development, Education and Culture
The Working Group on Human Resource Development, Education and Culture is committed to provide capacity building programmes that are market driven. Priorities are narrowed down to developing and upgrading of IMT-GT workforce skills and improving labour mobility Capacity building, knowledge exchange, technology transfer and research and development as performed under the IMT-GT UNINET framework. While involving at areas with relevance to education, sports, arts, music and other forms of socio-cultural activities that contributes to people-to-people connectivity.