UN Forum to Promote Investment in the Asian Highway

Just over two years since the Agreement on the Asian Highway Network came into force, more than 10,000 kilometres of the Highway have been upgraded to meet the minimum standards set by the Agreement.

With 12,000 kilometres -- about nine per cent of the 141,000 kilometre Highway -- remaining to be upgraded, a forum will take place in Bangkok on 16 November to boost investment.

The Asian Highway Investment Forum, which takes place at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, will bring together representatives from 30 countries, 10 international organizations and the private sector. Participants will explore investment opportunities in member countries and different approaches to financing the Asian Highway.

The Agreement, which was negotiated and concluded under the auspices of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), has so far been signed by 28 countries of which 21 have ratified it. Parties to the Agreement are obliged to bring the sections of the Highway in their territories into conformity with the classification and design standards defined by the Agreement.

An UNESCAP study in 2005 estimated that while around $25 billion was already committed to upgrading the Asian Highway, there was still a shortfall of $18 billion.

Most of the upgrades took place in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan.

So far, all section of the Asian Highway in 13 countries meet the minimum standards set by the Agreement: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Georgia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey and Uzbekistan. The status of each country’s progress is available in the attached file.

In Thailand, about 350 kilometres of the Asian Highway have been upgraded to four to eight lanes, mainly covering the routes from Bangkok to Chiangrai in the north and from Bangkok to Hatyai, Songkhla Province in the south.

The Intergovernmental Agreement on the Asian Highway Network, which entered into force on 4 July 2005, is the first treaty developed under the auspices of UNESCAP and deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.