Vientiane, Lao PDR, 12 August 2015– Waterborne transport management, the sustainable transport of dangerous goods and cross-border trade and navigation in the Lower Mekong Basin will benefit from a EUR 240,000 (approximately US$267,500) grant from the government of Belgium.

The funds, provided to the Mekong River Commission Secretariat via the Belgian Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGDC), are a continuation of Belgium’s previous support to the MRC, and will be earmarked specifically for work related to navigation and trade facilitation from 2016–2017.

The contribution is part of a series of new financial agreements between the MRC Secretariat and various donors such as the governments of Switzerland, Luxembourg and Germany to support the implementation of the strategic cycle 2016-2020.

Belgium has been one of the long-standing development partners of the MRC contributing more than EUR 14 million (approx. US$15 million) to support the former Navigation Programme. The contributions have been instrumental in navigation development across the basin, with achievements that include the Agreement on Waterway Transport between Cambodia and Viet Nam, the preparation of guidelines for the transport of dangerous goods, capacity building to government agencies, installation of landing facilities, tidal monitoring stations, buoys and beacons, and GPS navigation guidance system to ensure safety.

“Navigation is vital for the economic development of all the countries that share the Mekong waters, and the MRC Secretariat has worked tirelessly to help the member countries improve the quality of waterborne transport and use the river more efficiently to help alleviate poverty”, said Pham Tuan Phan, CEO of the MRC Secretariat. “We are grateful to the government of Belgium for supporting our work in this important sector”, he added.

The Belgian government has supported the MRC’s navigation work since 2006. International trade opportunities for the MRC countries have increased and waterborne transport has become safer and more effective thanks to many of the activities of the Commission.


Note to editors:

The MRC is the intergovernmental body responsible for cooperation on the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin whose members include Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. It serves as a regional platform for water diplomacy as well as a knowledge hub of water resources management for the sustainable development of the region. It is not a supra-national or regulatory body. The commission looks across all sectors including sustaining fisheries, identifying opportunities for agriculture, maintaining the freedom of navigation, flood management and preserving important ecosystems. Superimposed on these are the future effects of more extreme floods, prolonged drought and sea level rise associated with climate change.