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UPDATED: 08:11, March 21, 2007
Mekong countries complete landmark transport agreement
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The countries of the Mekong region completed an agreement on Tuesday to allow easier movement of people and goods across borders.

The Cross Border Transport Agreement streamlines the regulations and procedures for crossing borders in the Greater Mekong Subregion of China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The agreement, designed to ease border crossings by removing or reducing non-physical barriers, includes measures such as single-stop customs inspections, visa assistance for those involved in cross-border trade, and facilities to reduce inspections of vehicles.

"Improving transport infrastructure and lowering trade barriers are crucial to growing the economies of the Mekong subregion and lessening poverty," said Arjun Thapan, director general of the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) southeast Asia department.

The last four of 20 annexes and protocols of the initiative, which is supported by the ADB, were completed and signed by the heads of the respective national transportation committees in Beijing.

The Cross Border Transport Agreement has been in trial operation since June 2005 at the border between Lao Bao in Vietnam and Dansavanh in Laos. Six other border-crossing points are expected to be included within the year.

Source: Xinhua

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