The IMT-GT started life as an early attempt at economic liberalization & integration in ASEAN. It was formally endorsed by Indonesia’s President Suharto, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad and Thailand’s Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai in 1993.
The participating countries hoped that the IMT-GT would function as an engine of growth to boost economic, social & cultural ties between their common border areas. It was envisaged that the private sector would drive the economic agenda & development of the IMT-GT, while the role of the public sector would be to support & facilitate wherever possible the activities of the private sector.
The Asian Development Bank subsequently undertook a detailed feasibility study & formulated the framework for cooperation. The study concluded that the IMT-GT had great potential to stimulate cross-border economic integration in 6 priority areas, namely: Infrastructure Development; Agriculture & Fisheries; Trade; Tourism; Human Resource Development; and Professional Services.
The IMT-GT Joint Business Council (IMT-GT JBC) was inaugurated in 1995 as the official vehicle to mobilize private sector participation & involvement in the IMT-GT. Between 1995 – 2005, the IMT-GT JBC facilitated the investment of an estimated US$3.80 billion worth of new projects in the IMT-GT region.