High-Level Dialogue on Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration for Enhancing Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific
At the first Ministerial Conference on Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration (RECI) in December 2013, representatives of ESCAP member States adopted the Bangkok Declaration, which set an agenda for RECI in the Asia-Pacific region consisting of four elements: (a) moving towards the formation of an integrated market, (b) development of seamless connectivity in the region, (c) enhancing financial cooperation, and (d) increasing economic cooperation to address shared vulnerabilities and risks.
Fostering RECI is important because the economic importance of the region has greatly increased, matching that of North America and Western Europe. In 2001-2005 Asia-Pacific accounted for 27.1 percent of global GDP, compared to 46.3 percent by North America and Western Europe. However, in 2011-2015 the share of Asia-Pacific (36.1 percent) was almost the same as that from North America and Western Europe (36.3 percent). With a GDP of $27.3 trillion and growing fast, Asia and the Pacific is well on its way to become the largest market in the world.
RECI can support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. By generating large opportunities for enhancing employment and incomes across the region, RECI can contribute directly to SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth). Infrastructure connectivity, which is a key component of RECI, can also address SDGs 7 (Affordable and clean energy) and 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure). Furthermore, the favourable impact of RECI on economic growth across the region, can contribute to the mobilization of public resources needed to achieve the social and environmental SDGs.
However, the relationship between RECI and the 2030 Agenda is two-way. Not only can RECI support the attainment of the SDGs – the SDGs have also a vital role to play to guide the implementation of RECI. This can happen, for instance, by ensuring that infrastructure projects have favourable social and environmental, as well as economic, impacts. Ensuring that infrastructure projects connect small, low-income and geographically distant countries with the main markets of the region and giving high priority to address transboundary vulnerabilities and risks are other ways in which the 2030 Agenda can inform how RECI can be most effectively implemented.
The Dialogue will bring together government officials working in different areas of RECI to identify challenges and propose recommendations to enhance regional economic cooperation and integration. It will also provide an opportunity to discuss how RECI can most effectively support and contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.