Putrajaya, 26 November 2020 – The 26th IMT-GT Ministerial Meeting was held successfully via video conference. The meeting was chaired by H.E. Mr. Agus Suparmanto, Minister of Trade, Republic of Indonesia with the attendance of H.E. Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia, and H.E. Mr. Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Minister of Finance, the Kingdom of Thailand, H.E. Dr. Aladdin D. Rillo, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community, H.E. Mr. Ahmed M. Saeed, Vice-President for East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific, Asian Development Bank, and Mr. Firdaus Dahlan, Director Centre for IMT-GT Subregional Cooperation. The three Ministers were accompanied by Senior Officials, representatives of relevant ministries, local governments, Chair of UNINET, and chair of Joint Business Council.
Prior to this meeting, a series of relevant IMT-GT meetings were conducted among others: 27th Senior Officials Meeting on 2nd November 2020 chaired by Hon. Dr. Rizal Affandi Lukman, Deputy Minister for International Economic Cooperation, Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, Indonesia to prepare and discuss crucial issues that need guidance from the ministers; and 17th IMT-GT Chief Ministers and Governors’ Forum chaired by Hon. Irwan Prayitno, Governor of West Sumatera on 18th November 2020 to report project progress at the local level.
The IMT-GT Ministers acknowledged the progress of sectoral development under IMT-GT framework as reported by the chairpersons of the said meetings. After 27 years since its inception, IMT-GT cooperation has brought significant impact to the socio-economic development in the subregion. IMT-GT macro economic indicators before the COVID-19 showed an encouraging progress with GDP (USD 1,203.7 billion), and international trade (USD 382.8 billion) or increased by 4.9% and 9.8%, respectively in 2018. The poverty incident and unemployment rate in IMT-GT countries also continue to decline.
IMT-GT Ministers expressed their concern over the pandemic that has infected millions of people in the world, including IMT-GT member countries. The Ministers conveyed their support to the IMT-GT member countries’ collective actions in mitigating the negative impacts of COVID-19, and measures taken for economic recovery post COVID-19 to keep up the subregional cooperation towards achieving the IMT-GT Vision 2036.
With 32 provinces and a combined population of 84 million in the subregion, and with a labour force more than 41 million, IMT-GT’s economic strength represents a formidable market for robust economic and trade growth in the region. IMT-GT is committed to construct USD 51 billion worth of infrastructure projects covering road, airport, bridge, seaport, train, inland transport, Special Economic Zone(SEZ), Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities, and others involving the three countries, mostly to be completed by 2021.
Amid the global pandemic, the subregional cooperation has recorded positive progress on its projects and activities. One of which is the finalisation of IMT-GT Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine Framework of Cooperation (FoC), which has gone through a series of meetings and discussions that was pending for about seven years since 2014. This framework is targeted to be signed and adopted in 2021 and expected to bring greater benefit to smoother trade and supply chain by streamlining rules, regulations, and procedures. IMT-GT also targets to launch the IMT-GT E-Commerce Platform in 2021 to embrace the digitalisation in trade and especially to further expand market opportunity for local products post COVID-19.
In respond to COVID-19, IMT-GT conducted a series of video conferences in June – July 2020 to exchange of information and best practice in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and their impact to IMT-GT countries. The video conferences were successfully conducted with a total number of 600 participants from various levels and institutions including private sectors and universities. Speakers and participants discussed specific challenges faced by both public and private sectors from the implementation of movement restrictions and border closure. The video conferences gathered IMT-GT collective responses and initiatives, which will be implemented by all IMT-GT stakeholders.
Entering the final year of first IMT-GT Implementation Blueprint 2017-2021, IMT-GT has reviewed its document and preparing the second Implementation Blueprint 2022-2026 as the second leg in the journey towards realising IMT-GT Vision 2036. The review encompasses the current achievement of IMT-GT subregional cooperation especially under seven (7) focus areas and concludes recommendation to improve the efficiency of the current IMT-GT Implementation Blueprint. As the way forward, IMT-GT also plans to forge new partnerships with countries and international partners to accelerate the achievement of IMT-GT goals and priorities outlined in its Vision.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) as the IMT-GT regional development partner reiterated their commitment to support IMT-GT cooperation. For year 2020, ADB’s support to IMT-GT cooperation was reflected in their assistance in conducting two analytical works, namely Review of IMT-GT Economic Corridors, and Collaborative Approach to Special Economic Zone development and cooperation.The result of the studies are expected to bring greater benefit for IMT-GT especially in giving recommendation of possible area for expansion and prioritized investment in IMT-GT Economic Corridor area, and providing strategic relevance of SEZ initiatives in the subregion.
The meeting welcomes the 27th IMT-GT Ministerial Meeting and Related Meetings to be held in Kelantan, Malaysia in 2021.