The 43rd ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting and Related Meetings have concluded in Manado, but the Economic Ministers and Senior Economic Officials from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam have stayed back to focus on bridging the development divide between their countries – collectively called the CLMV – and the other six ASEAN Member States.

The 3rd CLMV Economic Ministers Meeting today started with the Ministers recalling the outcomes of last year’s Meeting to take stock of the different levels of implementation so far. They were satisfied with the progress of the CLMV Action Plan 2011 and reminded all agencies in charge to implement the rest of the activities in the Plan with great speed. They also encouraged the participation of Development Partners and International Donors in the implementation process this year and in the coming years to ensure that the Plan meets its objectives.

Apart from focusing on this year’s Action Plan, they have also started to discuss the formulation of next year’s Plan, which is expected to cover a wide range of areas – economic-trade activities, human resource development and coordination mechanism.

They also discussed ways to speed up the implementation of agreements reached at the CLMV Summits. They agreed to the methods to report the outcomes of the CLMV Economic Ministers’ Meetings to the CLMV Summit to improve delivery and effectiveness of the activities and to capitalise on the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) resources, especially for the Sectoral Work Programme and the agreed Action Plans.

The focus of the 3rd CLMV Economic Ministers Meeting were to further enhance intra-economic and trade relations within those four countries, closer coordinating activities in the sub-regional, regional and international fora, maximising their potentials to bridge the development divide between the four countries and the rest in the region.

The Meeting was attended by H.E. Cham Prasidh, Cambodia’s Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce; Mr. Bounsom Phommavihane, Director General of Foreign Trade Policy Department, Laos SEOM Leader, Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Lao PDR; H.E. U Tin Naing Thein, Myanmar’s Union Minister for National Planning and Economic Development; and H.E. Nguyen Cam Tu, Viet Nam’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade.

H.E. Pushpanathan Sundram, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community also attended the Meeting.

The CLMV countries were the last four to join ASEAN, which was founded in 1967. Viet Nam joined ASEAN in 1995, both Lao PDR and Myanmar joined in 1997, and finally Cambodia – next year’s Chair of ASEAN – joined in 1999. The work of the IAI aims to bring these four newer Member States closer to the six earlier ones, in an effort for a wholesome economic integration so that an ASEAN Economic Community can be achieved by 2015.