Twenty-three Asian countries agreed in Shanghai to form a 140,000 km highway network to upgrade the region's trade and tourism links. The agreement was signed at the annual meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), which brokered the agreement. The highway system, which will use existing roads to link 32 countries, includes 55 routes with termini in Finland, Turkey and Japan. UNESCAP said it hopes to increase the number of routes and streamline border crossing procedures. The UN estimated that investment of US$16 billion is necessary to upgrade the roads to meet the highway project's standards, with most of the substandard roads being located in Mongolia and Central Asia. International banks are expected to contribute to fundraising for the project.
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