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Colin Turner

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Colin Turner

This chapter examines the main drivers of regional infrastructure systems. The chapter initially defines the form and key characteristics of infrastructure and then, taking a realist perspective, argues that these structures are a key feature of state territorial strategies. Such debates inform the approach to regionalism addressed within the book, arguing that regional infrastructures are symptomatic of tensions within the global system to which national infrastructure systems have to adapt. The chapter concludes with a brief examination of the main forms of regional infrastructure identified within this book.

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Colin Turner

Europe is the continent where regionalism has the longest precedent in the form of the European Union (EU). However, only relatively recently has this integrationist agenda turned to the development of regional infrastructure systems. Framed within the context provided by formal European integration, this chapter argues that the main policy strategy for the development of the European infrastructure system – the trans-European networks initiative – is indicative of the EU’s aspirational territoriality. As such, despite the rhetoric and grand ambitions, the initiative has not amounted to much, with the main drivers of the process being through informal integration via bilateral and multilateral agreement between states.

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Colin Turner

Economic integration across Asia consists of a number of agreements. The core theme with regards to infrastructure focuses on the theme of connectivity; a theme defined by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group. This connectivity agenda has found resonance with the infrastructuring strategies elsewhere in the continent, notably the Association of South East Asian Nations, which has an active infrastructure component to its agreement. The chapter moves on to examine regional infrastructuring initiatives in two other sub-regional groupings: the Gulf Cooperation Council and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. The chapter concludes with an examination of how the regional hegemon – China – is promoting intra-Asian connectivity through its ‘new Silk Road’ strategy.

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Colin Turner

Infrastructure developments in Africa tend to take a different form from those elsewhere in the global economy. In this region, the issue is less about infrastructure for regional integration than it is about promoting infrastructuring to enable the integration of these economies into the global economic system. Nonetheless, the African Union has attempted to promote regional infrastructures, often through the framework provided by the sub-regional economic communities. In part, this is fuelled by the relatively large number of landlocked states across the continent that are especially vulnerable to the absence of regional infrastructure systems. Overall, there appears to be little success in the creation of such systems, due to the fact that many states simply do not see regional systems as that important due to a mix of low trade volume and longstanding mutual mistrust. The chapter concludes with the impact that China is having on this regional system through its investment in Africa.

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Colin Turner

There has been no real attempt to create a pan-American system of infrastructure. As such, the development of regional infrastructure in the Americas has been based on the links between states within the sub-regional agreements. Those studied within this chapter are NAFTA (North America), CARICOM (Caribbean) and UNASUR (South America). With regards to NAFTA, action linked to the formal free trade agreement (notably in transport) has been limited. However, in energy there are extensive links between the states. In CARICOM, the focus has been on creating a regional system for integration into global logistical channels. However, these measures tend to be interstate rather than indicative of deeper regional integration. Finally, UNASUR has made a concerted effort to develop regional infrastructure as part of these states’ strategy to upgrade national infrastructure systems. However, despite a series of high-profile initiatives, progress has also been limited.

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Colin Turner

This chapter addresses the themes raised within the respective regional chapters and assesses them within the context of the issues identified in Chapter 1. The chapter notes that despite the maturing and extensive nature of regional integration, infrastructuring remains a largely state-based activity. There exists very little evidence of territorial strategies at the regional level. Even where integration has matured the greatest, there is very little evidence of effective territoriality. However, alongside these formal agreements there is increased evidence of regional infrastructuring by China, most notably across Eurasia.

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Regional Infrastructure Systems

The Political Economy of Regional Infrastructure

Colin Turner

As the international economy globalises, there is a need for national infrastructure systems to adapt to form a global infrastructure system. This network of networks aids mobility between national systems as a means of supporting their territorial needs and preferences. This reflects a strategic approach to state infrastructuring as nations seek to utilise these physical systems to support and enhance their territoriality. Providing a thorough examination through the lens of economic infrastructure, the book addresses the forces of integration and fragmentation in global networks.
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Colin Turner

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Colin Turner

At its core, the contemporary international system is based on the existence of and interaction between a set of territorially demarcated states (Agnew 1994). Within each of these territorially bounded spaces, the state – as a collection of centralised political institutions – is sovereign. This sovereignty within this internationally agreed geographic division is presumed to be mutually exclusive (Taylor 1995). Whilst the exclusivity of state territoriality has been increasingly challenged (see below), there can be little doubting that it remains a focal point within the operation of the contemporary international system. The desire of the state to sustain and maintain its territorial pre-eminence within its bounded space requires it to develop and implement territorial strategies that enable, enforce and/or legitimise its territoriality. This is suggestive that the primary objective of these territorial strategies is to enable territoriality through enhancing the welfare of its citizens via growth, improved security, socio-economic development, territorial cohesion, etc. (Taylor 1994). This emphasises – in the absence of coercion of its citizens – the link between territoriality and the legitimacy of the state as a territorial agent. Integral to this link is the process of infrastructuring. This is defined as the act of creating and maintaining a territorial infrastructure system where infrastructure is commonly defined as ‘built networks that enable flows over space’ (Larkin 2013, p.329), offering services that, at their core, are central to territorial functioning and to the operation of the agents within that space (Finger et al. 2005).