Investment in Infrastructure and Regional Integration: Will Connectivity Reduce Inequalities?

Abstract : The term " connectivity " emerged among Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) member states (AMS) during meetings concerning the building of the ASEAN economic community (AEC). Following numerous discussions of this concept at the fifteenth ASEAN Summit in October 2009, the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) was adopted in 2010, during the seventeenth ASEAN Summit in Vietnam. The MPAC (2011, pp. 1–3) defines connectivity as the physical, institutional, and people-to-people linkages that comprise the foundation support and facilitative means to achieve the economic, political security and sociocultural pillars toward realizing the vision of an integrated ASEAN Community. It therefore relies on three main pillars: the improvement of the institutional environment so as to reduce tariff and nontariff barriers and favor the creation of a single market in the sea and air sectors; the setting up of legislative measures favoring greater mobility of persons within ASEAN; and finally, the development of transnational transport infrastructures whose aim is to favor connectivity within ASEAN. According to ASEAN leaders, improved connectivity, especially through transport links, is an essential condition for economic growth in Southeast Asia. Transport links not only provide physical access to resources, but also enable producers to take advantage of opportunities in domestic and foreign markets, leading to economies of scale and specialization. They also enable consumers to have access to a variety of competitively priced goods, encourage investment, promote social integration, and spur trade and economic growth. Furthermore, enhancing ASEAN's connectivity is not only to reduce business transaction cost, time, and travel costs, but also to connect the " core " and the " periphery " in ASEAN (Basu Das, 2013, p. 3), thus distributing the benefits of multifaceted growth wider in the region and reducing the development divide in ASEAN. ASEAN's connectivity plan therefore takes as its starting point the hypothesis that there exists an obvious link between building infrastructures, the opening up of territories and their inclusion in newly established networks, and economic development. Due to this fact and according to ASEAN leaders, the upgrading of infrastructure, the construction of new infrastructure, and the harmonization of the regulatory framework would significantly narrow the development gap within ASEAN. It is precisely this hypothesis that this chapter is questioning, by focusing especially on the MPAC's development projects for land (road and rail) and sea transport infrastructures. After presenting the main directions taken by the MPAC and the tools used to decrease territorial inequalities regarding provision of infrastructures, this chapter attempts to assess on different scales (regional, subregional, and local) the regions that have gained or lost since the MPAC was implemented and to explain the reasons for these disparities.
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Nathalie Fau. Investment in Infrastructure and Regional Integration: Will Connectivity Reduce Inequalities?. ASEAN Economic Community, A model for Asia-wide Regional Integration ? edited by Bruno Jetin and Mia Mikic, 2016, 978-1-137-53508-5. ⟨10.1057/9781137535085_15⟩. ⟨hal-01673645⟩

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