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Regional bloc urges better financing channels

By He Na and Liu Mingtai in Yanji, Jilin ( China Daily )

China and the other members of an intergovernmental cooperation group in Northeast Asia said on Wednesday that interconnectivity and extending financing channels are its top priority.

The Greater Tumen Initiative members also agreed to make more efforts to promote cooperation on projects in these fields.

The Initiative, established in 1992 and originally known as the Tumen River Area Development Program, is supported by the United Nations Development Program and has four member countries - China, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea, and Russia.

As a platform for economic cooperation in the region, it serves as a catalyst for policy dialogue and cooperation on transportation, energy, tourism, investment and the environment.

Senior officials from the member governments attended the 15th Consultative Commission Meeting of the GTI in Yanbian Korean autonomous prefecture in Jilin province.

Wang Shouwen, China's assistant minister of commerce, pointed out some barriers to further cooperation, saying that cooperation on the communication mechanism still needs to be improved, there is a shortage of "cooperation capital", and infrastructure within the region is poor.

"President Xi Jinping proposed during his visit to Kazakhstan in September 2013 that China and Central Asia join hands to build a Silk Road Economic Belt to boost cooperation," he said.

"China hopes to combine the development of the GTI with China's Silk Road belt strategy to promote GTI regional development at a higher level."

Representatives from the United Nations Development Program, United Nations Industrial Development Organization and export-import banks in Northeast Asia also took part in the meeting.

Zhang Shaogang, director- general of the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce, called for all these institutions to continue providing capital and technological support to the GTI.

Jin Seoung-ho, director- general of the Republic of Korea's Ministry of Strategy and Finance, said, "The Korean government recognizes the importance of Northeast Asia. We are going to establish a cooperation system within the GTI framework that will pursue co-prosperity in Northeast Asia based on mutual trust."

Mongolia's Vice-Minister of Finance Surnjav Purev said, "Mongolia hopes to enhance cooperation with China and other countries on big projects, especially on energy and railways."

Russia called for cooperation on infrastructure construction to be speeded up and for enhanced cooperation on bilateral trade by reducing customs formalities.

"We strongly call for the establishment of a tourism center for the GTI and to set up the agency in China ... to integrate tourism resources and attract group tourists," Pavel Korolev, Russia's deputy economic development minister, said at the meeting.

Contact the writers at hena@chinadaily.com.cn and liumingtai@chinadaily.com.cn