The current financial turmoil that has seriously affected developed countries has highlighted the need on the part of developing economies to find new and independent sources of sustainable growth and development. Increased trade and capital flows amongst these economies are one possible source. However, while these flows have been on a strongly upward trend in recent years, there still exist significant obstacles to their future expansion, most notably in the form of infrastructure gaps.
Infrastructure development, particularly at the regional level, has the power to foster intraregional trade, thereby creating regional markets and in the process helping to accelerate growth and reduce poverty. Together with expanded demand, it is also conducive to diversification, regional economic convergence and reduced inequality. Yet promoting regional infrastructure is a multifaceted task and typically requires large-scale funding involving complex financial engineering, an appropriate regulatory framework and above all human, technical and institutional capacities for successful outcomes.
This expert group meeting will explore the role of different partnerships initiatives and cooperation mechanisms in supporting infrastructure development to promote economic integration among developing countries. Representatives of both the public and private sectors are expected to bring to the expert meeting their own perspectives and to highlight specific issues in connection with their particular areas of expertise, helping us move closer to a more rounded view of the challenges facing cross-border infrastructure development.
The main objectives of this expert meeting are to:
- Examine the different initiatives and mechanisms in support of regional infrastructure projects for sustainable growth and development.
- Identify the key factors behind successful experiences, and the main causes of disappointing results; this will help inform policy and, hopefully, lead to more positive outcomes.
- Factor out the key constraints facing different categories of developing countries and discuss the role that more resourceful developing countries can play at the regional level.
- Share and discuss experiences and lessons in promoting regional integration through regional infrastructure development.
The meeting will be structured around three sessions:
The opening session will examine the links between infrastructure and development, focusing on the effects of infrastructure provision on growth, poverty and inequality.
The second session will assess the role of different partnership initiatives and cooperation mechanisms in supporting infrastructure development to promote economic integration among developing countries. The experts will focus in particular on three specific mechanisms that have informed the discussions of development cooperation in this area: privatization, public-private partnerships and financing from regional development banks.
The third and final session will discuss the impact on development of trade facilitation and logistics and assess the policy challenges involved and the potential role of development cooperation.
Input from experts
Experts nominated by member States are encouraged to submit brief papers (approximately 5–12 pages) as contributions to the work of the meeting. The papers will be made available at the meeting in the form and language in which they are received.
They should be submitted to the UNCTAD secretariat in advance of the meeting, and addressed to Piergiuseppe Fortunato, fax: +41 22 917 0050 e-mail: Piergiuseppe.Fortunato@unctad.org.