HA NOI, VIET NAM - Infrastructure in Asia and the Pacific must not only be strengthened and expanded but also enable the cost-effective movement of goods, services, and people across boundaries if the region is to sustain robust economic growth in the decades to come.
“Connectivity through infrastructure is critical for sustained economic and inclusive growth. Cross-border infrastructure helps raise household incomes through improved access to markets and increased access for the poor to grasp economic opportunities and take advantage of basic social services,” ADB Managing Director General Rajat M. Nag said at a seminar here during ADB’s 44th Annual Meeting.
The seminar, “Regional Infrastructure Development for Asia’s Connectivity: Current Progress, Challenges, and Ways Ahead,” looked at the challenges to enhanced regional connectivity, including the financing and coordination mechanisms required for priority projects, such as the Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway, and the need for improved policies and procedures to spur trade and economic development.
The Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway represent about 250,000 kilometers of road and rail networks connecting capital cities, major industrial zones, and other important commercial areas. ADB has helped finance about 18,000 kilometers of the Asian Highway, accounting for 13% of its total length. ADB is currently conducting a joint study with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia (UNESCAP), which launched the Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway networks, to identify high-priority projects that will link Asia’s production networks and supply chains with regional markets.
The Asia and Pacific region requires some $8 trillion in infrastructure investment between now and 2020, and ADB and the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) recently produced a trilogy of studies recommending four key steps to address infrastructure deficits and distributional imbalances.
Hiroshi Watanabe, President and Chief Executive Officer, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, said “Region-wide infrastructure can take care of the needs of smaller countries and those of the bottom-billion people. The key priorities of Asian infrastructure development are transportation and power-grid systems, which should be enhanced based on regional supply and demand.”
Other speakers at the seminar were Iwan Azis, Head of ADB’s Office of Regional Economic Integration; Subodh K. Goel, Chairman and Managing Director, India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited; Nagesh Kumar, Chief Economist with the UNESCAP; and Andrew Yee, Global Head of Infrastructure Principal Finance at Standard Chartered Bank.