NE Asian countries join forces for Greater Tumen development

Vice Premier Wang Qishan told a forum here on Tuesday that China was willing to strengthen energy, trade and investment cooperation, and push forward regional logistics development with other countries in northeast Asia.

"China will make concerted efforts with other countries in this region to further lower trade barriers and boost investment in infrastructure, high technology, agriculture and modern service industries," he added.

Top officials from China and other northeast Asian countries said that they would strive for joint regional development at the Second High-Level Forum on Northeast Asia Economic and Trade Cooperation.

The forum is a part of the ongoing Fourth Northeast Asia Investment and Trade Expo held here in the capital of northeastern Jilin Province.

The expo attracted 62 global Fortune 500 companies, where high-ranking officials, leading experts and domestic and foreign business people met to exchange views and seek business opportunities.

"Everyone’s opinions and mutually beneficial cooperation will play an active part in promoting economic and trade cooperation in Asia," said Dorjsurenkhorloo Khurelbaatar, State Secretary of the Ministry of Industrial and Trade of Mongolia.

Jilin is located in the center of northeast Asia, which includes the northeast of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan, Mongolia and the east Siberian region of Russia.

Northeast Asia plays an important role in promoting the regional development, prosperity and security of the Asia-Pacific region, said Warren Sach, acting Under-Secretary-General for Management of the United Nations, adding that the development of the Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI) was at a "critical" stage.

Northeast China, rich in natural resources including coal and oil, is the country’s traditional heavy industrial base and granary. However, it also faces the challenges of industrial upgrading, resource depletion and financing bottlenecks.

Investment is surging into this relatively under-developed area. The State Council, or Cabinet, announced a revitalization plan for this region last August. And contracts involving foreign investments worth 25 billion yuan (3.66 billion U.S. dollars) were signed during last year’s Expo.

China is poised to rejuvenate this Rust Belt region within 10 to 15 years. Per capita gross domestic product in the region is forecast to reach 21,889 yuan in 2010, up from 15,318 yuan in 2005.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) launched a plan in 1991 to set up an economic development zone in the Tumen River delta, a 516-kilometer-long border river that lies among China, Russia and the DPRK. The program was affirmed by the governments of the relevant countries.

In 1995, five countries (China, Russia, the DPRK, the ROK and Mongolia) ratified the agreement on the Establishment of the Cooperation Commission for the Tumen River Economic Development Area and other relevant agreements. Japan is participating in the GTI program as an observer.

In 2005, the five signatories agreed to extend the 1995 Agreement for another 10 years. They also agreed to expand the geographical coverage to the Greater Tumen Region and to further strengthen the cooperation for economic growth and sustainable development for the peoples of Northeast Asia.

Nataliya Yacheistova, director of the UNDP’s Tumen Secretariat, told Xinhua that the accelerated development of the Tumen region was mutually beneficial to all the countries in this region, as the regional economy was becoming more globalized.

Political and economic conditions for the GTI are favorable, she said.

"Countries in this region should seek synergy, as no single country can solve energy, environmental and infectious disease problems alone," she added.
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