On 14th of May 2017 several delegates for landlocked developing countries (LLDC) countries in Asia, as well as GIZ programmes from the region and representatives of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) met in Bangkok, Thailand to discuss the issues of opportunities and challenges arsing from the Chinese driven Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Previously UNESCAP and GIZ Mongolia had launched a joint research project in 2016 to look deeper into the specific impact BRI may have on the economies of landlocked countries. The BRI – first announced by the Chinese government in 2013 – focuses on connectivity and cooperation among more than 60 countries mainly in Central and Southeast-Asia, promoting the establishment of multiple economic corridors. Thus, the impact on developing countries could be immense. Especially so for landlocked countries which are highly dependent on connectivity.

The objective of the workshop was to discuss outcomes of a country study on opportunities and risks of the BRI for Mongolia that was commissioned as part of this project. The aim is also to learn from participants about challenges in economic diversification and infrastructure development that other LLDCs in the Asia-Pacific region are facing.

The SCSI team joined the workshop to enrich the discussion with the perspective on connectivity and regional cooperation between the People’s Republic of China and their neighbouring countries. Focusing especially on the needs of LLDCs including the SCSI focus countries Mongolia and Lao PDR.

To deepen the discussion a similar study utilising the previously developed research design and the outputs of the workshop’s discussion is currently under preparation between the SCSI programme, UNESCAP and potential local partners in Lao PDR.