US$11.5b boost for China’s neighbors
 Source:Xinhua/Shanghai Daily Date:2014-12-22

CHINA is to provide more than US$11.5 billion in loans and aid to neighboring Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Premier Li Keqiang pledged US$1 billion in funding for infrastructure, US$490 million aid for poverty reduction, and US$10 billion in “special loans.”

Li announced the loans in Bangkok at the weekend at a summit of the countries along the Mekong River.

He told the fifth summit of the Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation Program that China will offer the five neighboring nations opportunities to share the Mekong River funds and production capacity aid so as to help promote infrastructure connectivity, poverty reduction and production capacity.

China will export production capacity in industries such as electricity, telecommunications, steel and cement, he said.

The premier said that infrastructure inter-connectivity, particularly transport facilities, was vital to boosting economies and development.

Ahead of the summit, he vowed to help construct a railway through Thailand which will cost US$10.6 billion.

The Chinese and Thai governments agreed to build Thailand’s first standard-gauge railway lines with a total length of more than 800 kilometers.

Li voiced the hope that the high-caliber, high-quality and cost-effective new railway lines would benefit neighboring countries if extended to other places in the region.

The economic cooperation program, which was launched in 1992 by the six countries, is aimed at pooling joint efforts to improve regional infrastructure, enhancing trade, investment and economic growth.

In addition to railway cooperation, China also promised to invest US$16.4 million dollars to dredge waterways along the Mekong River in a bid to prevent natural disasters.

Li said that China expects to export its high-level production capacity in such industries as electricity, telecommunications, steel and cement to neighboring countries, especially those on regional transport routes.

China is going to finance infrastructure inter-connectivity and industrial production capacity exports by offering special loans as well as allowing currency swaps in cross-border transactions and participation of private enterprises, Li said.

Such efforts, together with a farm produce trade cooperation agreed by China and Thailand last Friday, are aimed at improving the people’s livelihoods in the subregion, particularly farmers’ lives, said Li, adding that China will offer 3,000 opportunities in the coming three years to GMS countries for training professionals in agriculture and health.

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