The Asian Highway network is a network of 141,000 kilometers
of standardized roadways crisscrossing 32 Asian countries with linkages
The Asian Highway project was initiated in 1959 with
the aim of promoting the development of international road transport in
the region. During the first phase of the project (1960-1970) considerable
progress was achieved, however, progress slowed down when financial assistance
was suspended in 1975.
Entering into the 1980s and 1990s, regional political
and economic changes spurred new momentum for the Asian Highway Project.
It became one of the three pillars of Asian Land Transport Infrastructure
Development (ALTID) project, endorsed by ESCAP Commission at its forty-eight
session in 1992, comprising Asian Highway, Trans-Asian Railway and facilitation
of land transport projects.
The Intergovernmental Agreement on the Asian Highway
Network was adopted on 18 November 2003 by an intergovernmental meeting
held in Bangkok, was open for signature in April 2004 in Shanghai and
entered into force on 4 July 2005.
A total of US$26 billion has already been invested in
the improvement and upgrading of the Asian Highway network. However, there
is still a shortfall of US$18 billion. UNESCAP secretariat is now working
with its member countries to identify financial sources for the development
of the network to improve their road transport capacity and efficiency.