On November 18, 2003, representatives from 32 countries signed the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Asian Highway Network in Bangkok, Thailand. The agreement aims to improve economic and social development in the region by connecting major cities and economic centers through an integrated highway network. The Asian Highway Network spans over 141,000 kilometers across 32 countries, connecting Asia from Turkey to Japan.
The agreement aims to improve transport infrastructure and connectivity across the region, facilitating trade and enhancing tourism. The Asian Highway Network is divided into five priority corridors: the AH1, AH2, AH3, AH4, and AH5. The corridors are expected to promote regional economic cooperation, connectivity, and integration. Once completed, the corridors will connect major cities and ports in the region, providing easier and more efficient transportation between countries.
The AH1 starts from Tokyo, Japan and ends in Istanbul, Turkey, passing through countries like China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Georgia. The AH2 route starts from Denpasar, Bali, in Indonesia and ends in Khosravi, Iran, going through countries like Thailand, Myanmar, India, Bhutan, and Nepal. The AH3 starts from Ulan-Ude, Russia, and ends in Chiang Rai, Thailand, passing through countries like China, Laos, and Vietnam. The AH4 starts from Novosibirsk, Russia, and ends in Thimphu, Bhutan, going through countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and India. The AH5 route starts from Hanoi, Vietnam, and ends in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, passing through Laos.
The agreement also contributes to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of reducing inequality and promoting economic growth in the region. By connecting major cities and economic centers, the Asian Highway Network can improve access to markets and create new economic opportunities, particularly in rural and underserved areas.
However, the implementation of the project faces several challenges such as political instability, security issues, environmental concerns, and inadequate funding. Countries along the corridors must collaborate and work together to overcome these challenges and ensure the successful completion of the project.
In conclusion, the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Asian Highway Network is a significant step toward integrated regional development and cooperation. It aims to improve connectivity and transport infrastructure across Asia, promoting economic growth, and achieving the United Nations SDGs. The project needs the cooperation and commitment of all participating countries to achieve its objectives and bring positive changes to the region.