The East Asia Summit (EAS) leaders have agreed on the need for efficient and sustainable infrastructure development in ASEAN to strengthen trade, investment and service competitiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.
Heads of state/government from ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the United States meeting in Vientiane last week endorsed the Vientiane Declaration on Promoting Infrastructure Development Cooperation in East Asia.
During the East Asia Summit, the leaders pledged their strong commitment to strengthening the EAS while recognising the importance of sustainable infrastructure development in the region.
The regional leaders decided to encourage all EAS participating countries to further facilitate and assist in identifying cooperation projects that meet the criteria and requirements necessary to access financial resources and technical assistance available in the region, including from the Asian Development Bank (ADB); the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); Japan’s Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure of US$ 200 billion announced in 2016; and India’s Credit Line of US$1 billion.
The leaders also agreed to support and facilitate cooperation among EAS participating countries in sustainable infrastructure development initiatives, including resource mobilisation, sharing of expertise, best practices and information, promoting cooperation in management and sustainable use of natural resources, green and clean technology to protect the environment and eco-system through bilateral, regional and sub-regional frameworks of cooperation such as the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS); Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS); Mekong-Ganga Cooperation; Mekong-Japan cooperation and the Lower Mekong Initiative.
According to the Vientiane Declaration, the leaders agreed to improve the use of the Kunming-Bangkok Highway, complete the ASEAN Highway Network project and consider the construction of the Singapore-Kunming Rail Link main lines and detailed designs for the spur lines.
The EAS leaders also agreed to encourage enhanced investment, financial and technical support, especially from the private sector, to ASEAN member states to carry out infrastructure projects and other projects related to connectivity, as well as encourage greater investment in infrastructure development projects in ASEAN nations.
The leaders acknowledged that access to financial resources, project development, technology development and capacity building, as well as the role of public-private partnerships, are critical. In addition, ASEAN leaders adopted the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 (MPAC 2025) at the 28th ASEAN Summit in Vientiane last week, which stated that ASEAN needs at least US$110 billion of infrastructure investment each year to support future growth.
MPAC 2025 aims to help investors seize opportunities in sustainable infrastructure by improving project preparation, enhancing infrastructure productivity, and supporting cities in adopting sustainable practices.
The government of Laos is well aware of the importance of connectivity, notably road development, to link the region as a means to transform the country from a landlocked to a land-linked nation.
Connectivity is one of the eight priority areas stipulated under Laos’ chairmanship of ASEAN this year.
Source: Vientiane Times