Regional Cooperation and Integration: Experiences in Asia and the Pacific

This document gives a summary of the Conference on Regional Cooperation and Integration: Experiences in Asia and the Pacific and features the discussions and presentations including information on major Regional Cooperation and Integration (RCI) programs.
The conference was organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with support from the Kunming municipal government, Yunnan Province, People's Republic of China (PRC), and was held in Kunming on 26-27 March 2012. The event brought together for the first time about 160 participants from ADB and its developing member countries (DMCs) and development partners to share experiences in implementing RCI initiatives, present information about problems encountered and innovations introduced to address these challenges, and discuss the implications for future RCI policies and initiatives.
As global economic gravity shifts toward Asia, the promotion of subregional and South-South cooperation will contribute to global rebalancing. In this context, cooperation is essential if integration is to be a long-term goal. Issues such as crisis contagion, climate change and disaster risk, security, and illicit trade all demand attention. There are good investments and regional cooperation opportunities in energy generation and transmission, as well as in the development of regional energy markets and grid interconnectivity. Private sector participation is critical, and increased coordination is needed to enhance environmental sustainability and resilience to climate volatility.
Trade facilitation is multi-sector, multidimensional, and multi-institutional. While good progress has been achieved on the hard or physical aspects of connectivity, major challenges remain on the so-called "soft" aspects, such as policy, regulatory, and procedural measures. More effort is needed to improve trade through border and behind-the-border measures to keep pace with physical investment, though there is a huge gap there as well. Trade facilitation and trade and investment liberalization should be well coordinated within subregional groupings and across the region as a whole. Transforming transport corridors into dynamic economic corridors can help resolve multifaceted development issues. However, the process must be customized to suit each subregion's specific needs.
The conference participants gave positive feedback on the conference and requested ADB to provide more opportunities for knowledge sharing in subregional programs, particularly to implement projects, remove bottlenecks, and address challenges.