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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

16 July 2021


Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Sustainable regional connectivity lies at the heart of the Regional Road Map for Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and is the core element of enhancing regional cooperation.

ESCAP responds to the growing call to strengthening sustainable regional connectivity by promoting seamless transport, trade, energy, and digital networks in the context of COVID-19 recovery strategies.

The availability, accessibility, and affordability of high-quality and sustainable regional infrastructure networks have long been driving factors for spurring economic growth and jobs creation.

Being landlocked, all Central Asian countries suffered a lot since the onset of the pandemic due to connectivity restrictions, increase in trade costs, shrinking world trade, and severe disruptions in service sectors.

To mitigate socio-economic impacts and recover better from this crisis, we must keep in vision the main strategic directions.

The first is to focus on transport and trade connectivity by upgrading transport infrastructure, assisting the small and medium operators, and promoting paperless trade.

The Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific can help reduce trade costs.

The second is to focus on energy connectivity.

ESCAP has developed a draft Electricity Connectivity Roadmap for Asia and the Pacific. The suggested nine strategies, which are fully coherent with the SDGs, can help accelerate connectivity in the region, including through such initiatives like CASA-1000 and TAPI.

The third is to focus on digital connectivity.

Strengthening digital connectivity for stepping up regional connectivity has been featuring prominently in post-COVID-19 recovery plans. ESCAP, through its Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS), has advocated for accelerated investments in ICT infrastructure and broadband for all.

Excellencies, Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

To facilitate the three strategic directions, ESCAP is working closely with member States and all stakeholders together.

All Central and South Asian countries are active members of the regional transport network composed of Asian Highways, Trans-Asian Railways, and Dry ports developed and maintained under the auspices of ESCAP. 

Still, the costs and delays of the transport operation in landlocked countries are causing significant gaps in regional transport connectivity.

In this regard, I would like to recognize and welcome countries’ significant efforts to promote integrated intermodal transport by scaling up rail, strengthening intermodal platforms and dry ports, and cooperating on intermodal transport corridors connecting the region to global supply chains.

ESCAP is finalizing the Regional Action Programme on Sustainable Transport for 2022-2027 to be adopted at the fourth Ministerial Conference on Transport in December 2021. I warmly invite you to share the insights and ideas in the preparatory process for the Regional Action Programme.

Regional and subregional cooperation is pivotal for strengthening inter-regional connectivity. Therefore, ESCAP welcomes Uzbekistan’s initiatives on inter-regional collaboration and will be closely cooperating with all Central and South Asian member States for promoting seamless transport, trade, energy, and digital connectivity.

Thank you very much.

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