Economic Diplomacy and Connectivity: What Role for the OSCE?
Economic connectivity within and across countries and regions enhances the prospects of inclusive economic development and growth. Economic connectivity is enhanced by road and rail connections, airports and seaports, integrated border management structures, transnational energy and ICT infrastructure–all within an enabling regulatory environment that facilitates cross-national harmonisation and provides for the safe and efficient utilisation of these connectivity assets. As such economic connectivity contributes to security and stability within and across OSCE participating States and sub-regions.
Promoting economic connectivity can succeed when there is political will, sustainable public and private financing, an enabling and permissive institutional framework, and when it is driven by local needs and involves local actors in an inclusive and participatory process.
Many different actors have economic connectivity on their sometimes competing and conflicting agendas. The OSCE, with its overall positive track record of promoting and enhancing economic diplomacy and connectivity since the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 is uniquely placed among these many actors to:
–act as an international platform of knowledge generation and exchange on economic connectivity issues;
–stimulate dialogue on economic connectivity matters among participating States and stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, and academia;
–offer its good offices for horizontal and vertical co-ordination between and among participating States and other regional and international actors and organisations;
–think constructively ahead how the economic connectivity agenda can involve China as it becomes a more significant political and economic actor in the OSCE region;
–consider how economic connectivity may offer a framework and a perspective for addressing future challenges concerning Arctic access, resource management, and trade routes and avoid tensions among OSCE participating States and others in this regard.
Economic connectivity has been at the heart of the OSCE’s Second Dimension for more than four decades. The Second Dimension may not always have received the attention that it deserves, but the successes that the OSCE has had in using the tools of economic diplomacy to contribute to better relations and tension reduction and to more inclusive economic development suggest that the economic connectivity agenda should remain at the heart of activities in the Second Dimension.
6 December 2018
25th OSCE Ministerial Council, Milan