Creating the Silk Super-Highway in Central Asia

ESCAP Executive Secretary, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer (third from left) and Secretary-General of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Mr. D. Mezentsev (third from right) at Bilateral meeting. 28 November 2013

Closer cooperation, economic integration and accelerated connectivity, are amongst the most important regional tools available to address persistent and emerging cross-border development challenges, the United Nations said here today.
Addressing the Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer said the Central Asian countries hold a key geographical location, acting as a land bridge between Europe and Asia, with their development critical to the future success of all of Asia.
“Together we can do more than revive the Silk Road,” said Dr. Heyzer. “We can build a Silk Super-Highway; a corridor of economic prosperity and development progress, which can serve as a model of cooperation, and benefit some of our most remote and rural communities in Central Asia.”
A key focus of the Meeting is to discuss the finalization and implementation of the Inter-Governmental Agreement on the Facilitation of International Road Transport.

The Agreement, once signed, is expected to open more than 15,000 km of Asian Highway routes for transport operation and services, with the longest route stretching more than 9,000 km from Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation to Lianyungang, China, and will also develop landlocked Central Asia’s access to sea by road through China and the Russian Federation.

“Apart from opening thousands of kilometres of Asian Highway routes for transport operation and services, and developing road access for Central Asia to the coast, it will effectively jump-start the lifeblood of traffic along these critical arterial routes and feeder roads of the Silk Super-Highway through the heart of our region,” noted Dr. Heyzer.“

By providing essential links, transport can transform landlocked countries into ‘land-linked’ countries – helping to integrate them with regional and global production and supply chains.

”The Asian Highway Network provides a platform for coordinated development of the international highways in Asia, as well as between Asia and Europe, providing the member states with the opportunity to discuss technical and institutional issues to improve the quality of the network and increase the efficiency of its operation.

“ESCAP will continue to lend our technical assistance and support to the SCO member States for effective implementation of the Agreement once it is signed,” Dr. Heyzer concluded.

On the sidelines of the gathering, Dr. Heyzer also held official meetings with H.E. Mr. Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of China, H.E. Mr. Serik Akhmetov, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, H.E. Mr. Rustam Azimov, First Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan and H.E. Mr. Sartaj Azizi, Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on National Security and Foreign Affairs.