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Australia’s Partnerships for Infrastructure (P4I) initiative has sponsored the 3rd Mekong Australia Policy Dialogue (MAPD) to discuss priority transport infrastructure projects as part of the sub-region’s COVID-19 recovery.
The MAPD was co-hosted by Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Australian Embassy in Bangkok on 17 November 2021, using both virtual and in-person meetings in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
Facilitated by P4I’s delivery partner, The Asia Foundation, the event brought together government officials from Australia and Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) members, with representatives from the private sector and research organisations. The overarching theme was “Road to Recovery: Transforming Transport Infrastructure in ACMECS.”
Opening remarks were delivered by H.E. Ms Arunrung Phothong Humphreys, Ambassador and Thai SOM Leader for Mekong Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and H.E. Mr Allan McKinnon PSM, Australian Ambassador to Thailand.
Ambassador McKinnon said that “As part of a landmark package to support Southeast Asia’s recovery from COVID-19, Australia is expanding cooperation with Mekong partners to invest in infrastructure and drive inclusive economic growth.”
H.E. Mr Chayatan Phromsorn, Thailand’s Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, then delivered the keynote address, outlining the country’s planned transport infrastructure development, linking Thailand with the region.
P4I infrastructure experts from EY, Tony Canavan and Lynn Tho, participated in panel discussions, sharing the latest transport infrastructure challenges and trends.
During his presentation in the session on “Infrastructure beyond COVID-19”, Mr Canavan began by commenting that “the huge disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic over the past two years have led many to ask – are these infrastructure plans still the right plans?”
He then described the following 7 transport infrastructure trends, challenges and opportunities following the pandemic:
- The decarbonisation of transport
- Critical supply chains and resilience
- Inclusive infrastructure
- Intelligent infrastructure
- Integration across sectors
- Reviving urban mass transit
- Finance with a purpose
Ms Tho facilitated the session on “Strengthening private sector participation to meet ACMECS future transport infrastructure needs”, with panellists from Australia’s Infrastructure and Project Financing Authority, Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment, Cambodia’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, and the International Finance Corporation in Laos.
Discussions explored how ACMECS members are using transport infrastructure to meet the needs of communities, safeguard the environment, and drive economic recovery. They also discussed sustainable infrastructure financing options, including the policy and institutional reforms needed to attract private investment.
Through P4I, Australia is partnering with ACMECS countries to meet the sub-region’s immense infrastructure needs and to improve connectivity through transport design, financing and delivery.