With a population of nearly 600 million and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$1.5 trillion, ASEAN is one of the world's most diverse and dynamic regional organizations. Currently, ASEAN's priority is to build a people-centric ASEAN Community by 2015.
If ASEAN can achieve its objective, its centrality could be more effectively promoted in the evolving regional architecture. One of the critical factors for an effective ASEAN community is the enhancement of connectivity within ASEAN. Connectivity does not only mean eliminating tariffs, but also removing non-tariff barriers, reducing obstacles to investment, and easing restrictions on trade in services. It also means binding ASEAN members through necessary physical infrastructure. This will bring people, goods, services, and capital closer together in accordance with the ASEAN Charter.
Infrastructure can be categorized into hard and soft infrastructure. The former refers to main physical structures or facilities that support the society and economy, such as transport (e.g., ports, roads, railways); energy (e.g., electricity generation, electrical grids, gas and oil pipelines); telecommunications (e.g., telephone and Internet). The latter refers to non-tangibles supporting the development and operation of hard infrastructure, such as policy, regulatory, and institutional frameworks; governance mechanisms; systems, procedures and so on.
This chapter is an overview of the current state of ASEAN infrastructure. The sectors covered in this chapter include: (1) transport, (2) ICT, and (3) energy. The chapter also provides a compilation of existing infrastructure development programmes for reference.
Current State of ASEAN Infrastructures
1. Transport Infrastructure Development
Having an integrated transport system in ASEAN is always an important goal of the ASEAN cooperation in the transportation sector. This is crucial for realization of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and for ASEAN to integrate with the global arena. To achieve this objective, a series of action plans have been adopted. These are: the Successor Plan of Action in Transport 1999–2004, the ASEAN Transport Action Plan (ATAP) 2005–2010 and the ASEAN Strategic Transport Plan (ASTP) 2011–2015.