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Photo cred: ESCAP / SCAS

Seamless ICT Connectivity discussed at High-Level Dialogue on Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration

On 20-21 April 2017 the High-Level Dialogue on Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration for Enhancing Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific took place at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand.

A number of new initiatives in the region are expected to boost physical infrastructure investment in information and communications technology (ICT), transport and energy throughout the region. They face, however, two important challenges. First, they need to be aligned with each other so that can serve effectively the whole region. And second, they need to be complemented with facilitation agreements and a simplification of regulations, so that goods and services can flow seamlessly through the expanded physical networks.

ESCAP has traditionally played an important role in addressing both above-mentioned challenges through initiatives such as the Asian Highway, the Trans-Asian Railway Network, the Asian Energy Highway and the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway. At RECI, discussions focused on how ESCAP work in these areas can be leveraged to better support the development of the region’s connectivity. A specific issue for discussion has also been about the existing opportunities and challenges for developing regional and sub-regional policies, regulations, project implementation norms and consensus building for cross-border connectivity.

The session at RECI on seamless connectivity in transport, energy and ICT was enriched by lively discussions by member States. Delegates and representatives shared challenges and opportunities of their respective countries and expressed the need for further strengthened regional and sub-regional cooperation and integration. For instance, the Delegation of Bhutan highlighted that lower broadband prices are essential in narrowing the region's digital divides, while the Delegation of Azerbaijan informed other member States about progress on the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway (TASIM).

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Photo: H.E. Lyonpo Dina Nath  Dhungyel, Minister of Information and Communications, Bhutan (taken by ESCAP/SCAS)