Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Mekong-Ganga Cooperation

Brief on Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC)

Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) is an initiative by six countries – India, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam for cooperation in tourism,culture, education, transport and communication. It was launched in year 2000 in Vientiane, Lao PDR. Both Ganga and Mekong are civilizational rivers, so the MGC initiative was to foster close contacts among people inhabiting these two major river basins. The grouping was also indicative of cultural and commercial linkages between India and Mekong Countries. The suggestion to set up these grouping was made by the then Thai Foreign Minister to EAM during his visit to India in July 2000. Then EAM Shri Jaswant Singh welcomed the idea and suggested the names of the two rivers to be the title of the Cooperation initiative.

On the margins of 33rd ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference held on 28 July 2000 in Bangkok,Foreign Ministers of the six countries formally announced the grouping then called as ‘Ganga Mekong Suvarnabhumi Programme (GMSP). Later due to reservation by Lao PDR,the name of the grouping was changed to Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC).

MGC Ministerial Meetings

The first MGC Foreign Minister Meeting (FMM) was held in Vientiane in November 2000 and the meeting issued the ‘Vientiane Declaration’ which covered cooperation in four traditional areas of tourism,culture, education, transport and communication. Second meeting was held in Hanoi in July 2001 and adopted Hanoi Programme of Action (HPA), a detailed Work Programme for six year (July 2001- July 2007) providing specific action for cooperation in the four traditional areas. The 3rd MGC Meeting was held in Phnom Penh in Cambodia in June 2003 and adopted the Phnom Penh Road Map.

The 5th FMM was held in Manila in August 2007 and was chaired by India. From 2007 to 2012 MGC FMM could not be held. In September 2012,the 6th MGC FMM was held in India. In this meeting, new areas were identified for cooperation including establishment of an India CLMV Quick Impact Project, SME Cooperation, Conservation of Rice Germplasm, Setting up Working Group on Health for sharing Information and Cooperation in Pandemics Management, a Common Archival Resource Centre (CARC) in Nalanda UNiversity.

The 6th MGC FMM took stock of the completion of MGC Traditional Asian Textile Museum in Siem Reap in Cambodia and also noted the developments in India-Myanmar Thailand Trilateral Project and ongoing cooperation under India ASEAN Framework to realize India ASEAN Connectivity. At the meeting,the Ministers agreed to extend the Trilateral Highway to Cambodia and Lao PDR. In the meeting also ,the ministers endorsed cooperation in areas like – Rice Germplasm, MSME, Pandemic Management and Establishment of CARC at Nalanda University. The meeting noted India’s support in providing scholarship through ICCR to students of MGC countries, support in setting up of Entrepreneurship Development Centre, (EDCs), Centre for English Language Training (CELTs) and Vocational Training Centre (VTCs) in CLMV countries.

The 7th MGC FMM was held in Vientiane in July 2016. Minister of State General Dr V K Singh (Retd) led the Indian Delegation. The meeting was held after a gap of four years. In the meeting,members reiterated cooperation in the areas earlier discussed .During the meeting a short film on ‘The Power of Six’ based on MGC Traditional Asian Textile Museum was screened. India announced special training programme to one representive from each MGC country in Museology and Conservation Techniques under ITEC Programme. India also invited member states to utilize USD 1 Billion LOC offer to ASEAN countries and sought cooperation for early finalization of ‘Motor Vehicle Agreement’ between India,Myanmar and Thailand. India announced to implement QIPs, providing 50 scholarships to MGC countries in subjects of culture, Tourism, Engineering, Management, Teacher Training,film direction, sound,lighting and stage management, setting up of software development centres, capacity building programmes in Law Enforcement, Financial Markets, ICT and Space, Conducting seminar on Connectivity etc. The draft declaration adopted Plan of Action (POA) 2016-18 which was endorsed to become the guideline for future action.

The 8th MGC FMM was held in Manila in August 2017. There was a proposal to formulate a master plan for Mekong Ganga Region identifying strength and priorities of the requirements of MGC countries. The Meeting noted on the requirement of making the traditional textile museum self sustaining body through various possibilities.Thailand submitted its offer to provide fellowship in areas like economic sufficiency, climate change, food security, public health, sustainable goals under ‘Annual International Training Courses’ and ‘Thailand International Post Graduate Programme’. All the members agreed to support in setting up the Common Archival Resource Centre (CARC) in Nalanda University. The meeting stressed on cooperation in agricultural and food security, regional food supply chain, climate smart agriculture and supported India’s proposal to hold the first Joint Working Group Meeting for Conservation of Rice Germ Plasm in New Delhi. The meeting also appreciated India’s proposal to organize Joint Working Group in Cooperation in MSME and to convene the first MGC Business Conclave. The Joint declaration noted the progress in execution of QIPs and efforts towards enhancing connectivity between India and Mekong Sub Region and supported the suggestion to establish MGC Joint Working Group to explore ways to enhance Maritime Cargo Transportation and Land Connectivity among MGC countries. The meeting also agreed to establish the Buddhist Trail and appreciated India for organizing first MGC Policy Dialogue.

The 9th MGC FMM was held in August 2018 in Singapore. The meeting took note of the progress in cooperation in different sectors among the member countries. The Ministers noted the holding of the 1st Joint Working Group on MSME Sector (September 2017) 1st MGC JWG Meeting on Information Sharing and Cooperation in Malaria and Dengue Management (November 2017), 1st MGC Business Forum (January 24, 2018), Scholarships in Museology Course (started in September 2018). India submitted the following proposals :-

  • Establishment of CARC in Nalanda University
  • 1st Meeting on Rice Germ Plasm
  • Organizing MGC Tourism Meet in four Metro cities in 2019, inviting chefs from MGC countries for training in Indian Cuisine, inviting craftsman to participate in Surajkund fair, organizing MGC Photography competition on Indian Tourism, media programmes for North East and Buddhist Circuits, incorporation of Buddhist sites in Buddhist Trail.
  • To organize MGC Trade Fair
  • To organize seminar on Water Management and Water Resource

MGC MEMBER COUNTRIES Laos Vietnam Cambodia India Myanmar Thailand