Written by Mekong Institute
P. R. China, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand are signatories to the 2000 Agreement for Coordinated Operation and Development of International Navigation on the Lancang-Mekong River and are all members of the Joint Committee on Coordination of Commercial Navigation on the Mekong-Lancang River (JCCCN), set up under the 2000 agreement. English is the adopted common language for communication in international navigation and commerce on the Lancang-Mekong, which borders all four agreement countries and also runs through two of them. Up to the present, the names Romanisation has not followed any standard, resulting in a variety of spelling and pronunciation of geographic names in English text or speech. This can give rise to uncertainty in communication involving Romanised geographic names, and present challenges in two types of situations: i) where swift action is required, such as a coordinated response to an urgent threat to life or property in navigation, or ii) where, in international trade in goods or services and related financing, effective and efficient decision making needs to be made on the basis of presented documents. The project to create a standard system of Romanised geographic names on the Lancang-Mekong is expected to reduce the uncertainty in communication and facilitate i) development of cross-border transport of goods and passengers; ii) related trade, tourism and financing; and iii) a cooperative development of commercial navigation on the Upper Mekong, all of which make up the core objectives of JCCCN.