Vast UN-backed Asian Highway moves ahead to link St. Petersburg to Singapore

15 December 2005

Major upgrading projects and funding needs were identified today for the United Nations-backed 140,000-kilometre Asian Highway Network that will link the vast region from St. Petersburg to Singapore and Seoul to Istanbul, facilitating trade and tourism and opening up landlocked countries.

Transport officials from 32 countries met in Bangkok at the first session of the Working Group on the Asian Highway following the entry into force of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the project in July.

Around $25 billion of investment is already committed, but an estimated $18 billion is still needed to improve the routes About 22,000 kilometres or 15.7 per cent of the network does not meet the minimum desirable standards set up by the Agreement.

The participants reviewed the current status of the network and deliberated on promoting investment, updating the database and improving road safety.

The Agreement, the first treaty developed under the auspices of UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), requires its parties to make every possible effort to comply with the minimum desirable standards both in constructing new routes and in upgrading and modernizing existing ones.

In a complementary move last month, ESCAP members laid the groundwork for the Trans-Asian Railway (TAR), a potential network of over 80,000 kilometres of rail routes linking 27 Member States.

 

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