ADBI series on Asian Economic Integration and Cooperation
Edited by Douglas H. Brooks and Jayant Menon
Chapter 7: Road Infrastructure and Regional Economic Integration: Evidence from the Mekong
1 Christopher Edmonds and Manabu Fujimura I. INTRODUCTION As developing economies become increasingly integrated with the global economy, the role of public goods that cross borders and bring beneﬁts that would not materialize by domestic public goods alone grows in importance. There are a variety of transnational public goods, ranging from peacekeeping, environmental protection, prevention of infectious diseases, as well as basic research and development. Regional integration initiatives involving public goods aim to generate beneﬁts that are shared by participating countries that cannot be obtained if countries act autonomously. The eﬀort to integrate economies requires co-operation in many areas, particularly in transport infrastructure and trade policies – including reduced tariﬀ and non-tariﬀ barriers – harmonization of standards and rules such as product safety rules and customs procedures. A number of regional and international institutions have been working to promote regional integration and co-operation for decades. The analytic approach applied in this chapter draws from two broad strands of recent economic literature. First, we consider the economic geography literature, which highlights the importance of geography in explaining patterns of trade and economic development. For example, this literature notes that economies suﬀering multiple geographical handicaps such as landlocked status, an absence of navigable rivers and lakes, or tropical or desert ecology, tend to be among the poorest in the world (for example, Radelet and Sachs, 1998; Redding and Venables, 2004). In the context of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), the relative poverty of Lao PDR has long been understood as...
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