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Members to spend billions on ASEAN integration

By Li Guozhang (The Economic Daily)

14:28, November 30, 2011

Edited and Translated by Han Shasha, People's Daily Online

To ensure the timely creation of a common market in 2015, ASEAN members consensually agreed to invest 60 billion U.S. dollars to accelerate "ASEAN Connection" at the summit held in Bali.

The investment will be mainly used to develop transports, technology and information, human resources and other infrastructures.

The past year has seen ASEAN grow stronger even as the global economic crisis intensified. With its member economies weathering the economic storm well, the construction of infrastructure has been a pressing concern.

Take Indonesia for instance. The length of its railway is only 5,000 kilometers, while the total highway mileage is 8,000 kilometers. The insufficient logistical infrastructure in Thailand has also cost more than 18 percent of its gross domestic product.

According to the plan, the "ASEAN Connection" program consists of 15 major infrastructure projects. The construction of road, rail and maritime infrastructure projects will start in 2012.

Once completed, these projects will not only achieve the initial integration of the logistics industry among ASEAN members but also greatly enhance the ASEAN-China exchanges in the field of logistics and communication. Road and rail will thoroughly connect China, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

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