Statement at the Belt and Road Initiative Summit Infrastructure Connectivity Session

Delivered at the Infrastructure Connectivity Session of the Belt and Road Initiative Summit in Beijing, China.

Distinguished delegates
Ladies and Gentlemen

BRI represents a long-term transcontinental plan for enhanced global connectivity and integration. It has potential to further position the Asia-Pacific as an epicenter of growth, trade, innovation and low carbon development. Mainstreaming sustainable development will help BRI promote seamless and integrated connectivity, deepen market integration while enhancing financial cooperation and climate resilience to collectively mitigate vulnerabilities.

BRI is an integral part of Asia-Pacific’s Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration program and both endeavors offer potential to reinforce each other, building on negotiated transboundary infrastructure networks. The BRI can benefit from ESCAP's policy and normative frameworks and standards based on multilateral principles and utilize the Asian Highways, ICT Superhighway and other transboundary infrastructure.

Under its partnership with China, ESCAP has analyzed the macroeconomic, environmental and social impacts of the BRI’s six priority economic corridors. CGE and gravity model simulations indicate the BRI will generate substantial benefits for China and partner countries, with welfare gains of $86 to $372 billion. However, the costs and benefits vary across corridors depending on geography, development levels, productive capacities and traffic flows. Three key messages from our analysis are:

  • First, “hard” infrastructure must be accompanied by “soft” infrastructure – agreements, technical standards and operational rules - to create seamless economic corridors. Our analysis indicates a 30 per cent decline in cross-border transaction costs and import tariffs would generate 1.8 per cent GDP growth for China and from 5.3 to 16.9 per cent for BRI-linked countries.
  • Second, synchronizing the BRI with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can facilitate delivery of transboundary SDGs and lay the foundations for equitable, inclusive and low carbon development, coupled with strategies for mitigating social risks.
  • Finally, an integrated cross-sectoral approach to BRI infrastructure development can lead to strong efficiency gains and costs savings through use of shared rights of way and other complementarities.

In conclusion, the BRI is complementarity with and can draw on ESCAP's inclusive intergovernmental platform, as well as with other subregional initiatives. Together these form a series of coordinated actions under the overarching Asia-Pacific regional cooperation and integration. ESCAP is committed to leverage its multi-sectoral work in transport, energy and ICT connectivity, financing for development and its capacity to forge regional agreements and standards among member States in support of the BRI.

With China’s spearheading of the BRI, the Asia-Pacific regional cooperation architecture will be enhanced by principles of peaceful coexistence, non-interference, mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.

I thank you.