East Asian Infrastructure Development in a Comparative Global Perspective: An Analysis of RIS Infrastructure Index

Abstract: Development of infrastructure is one of the key priorities of East Asia Summit (EAS) countries. By constructing an Infrastructure Index for 104 countries comprising all the EAS members, this paper examines the levels of infrastructure attainment of EAS countries in a comparative global perspective over time and space. It makes observations on the gaps between EAS countries in terms of infrastructure development, their overtime performance, and provides some policy recommendations for narrowing the gaps. The Infrastructure Index developed in this paper reveals very wide gaps in terms of infrastructure attainment across the EAS region, which seem to have widened rather than narrowed over time. The findings of this paper suggest that infrastructure development in the lagging EAS region needs to be paid due attention if the regional inequalities are not to widen further. The paper recommends creating a regional mechanism in order to utilize the region’s foreign exchange reserves for development of regional cross-border connectivity and other infrastructure services, which, if followed, will not only assist in generation of new demand within the region but also strengthen the regional integration process in EAS.