BANGKOK, 27 August 2019 – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand hosted the 10th ASEAN Connectivity Symposium in Bangkok today, bringing together over 140 participants, including ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee Representatives, Sectoral Body Chairs or representatives, Dialogue Partners and other key stakeholders.
Under the theme “Connecting ASEAN through Financing Sustainable Infrastructure”, the symposium discussed the opportunities and challenges of financing infrastructure projects and the different innovative ways to address infrastructure investment gap.
Accentuating the importance of sustainable infrastructure financing in ASEAN to strengthen regional connectivity, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand Arthayudh Srisamoot stated in his remarks that, “One of the challenges to seamless connectivity in ASEAN is inadequate financing relative to the high demand for infrastructure investment. ASEAN’s infrastructure financing needs are estimated to be around USD 210 billion per year, which ASEAN cannot afford alone. We therefore underscore the importance of financial connectivity while also seeking innovative financing approaches that mitigate risks in projects and bring more partners together”.
With a line-up of experts and practitioners from both public and private sectors, as well as international organisations, the discussions at the symposium centred around three main themes on building sustainable infrastructure for quality growth in ASEAN, increasing private sector’s involvement in infrastructure project development and investment, and innovative financing options for different types of infrastructure projects. The speakers and participants exchanged their views, providing feedback and recommendations on enhancing the role of policy makers and private sector in infrastructure development and financing towards enhancing ASEAN Connectivity.
The symposium noted the importance of having a broader mix of financial instruments that would allow a better diversification of risks among a wider range of investors. There are various tools and instruments to encourage private sector investment in infrastructure as they can help to improve risk assessment and management.
This symposium also marked the 10th year since the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) started supporting the annual ASEAN Connectivity Symposium. In his remarks, President of ERIA Professor Hidetoshi Nishimura underscored the importance of ‘digital connectivity’ in terms of implementing the MPAC 2025, while noting that enhancing ‘physical’ connectivity remains one of the biggest challenges in ASEAN. In order to achieve a more advanced digital economy, investment in 5G transmission facilities was important, he added. He also encouraged the participants to discuss how to achieve the quality of growth in the region based on effective development of sustainable infrastructure financing, invoking ERIA’s public-private partnerships guideline which emphasises the facilitation of close-network structures where governments, the private sector, and financial supporters are engaged.