Mongolia successfully concluded negotiations with all participating States for its accession to the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) at the close of last week.
The Standing Committee of APTA at its forty-second session reached a consensus officially welcoming Mongolia as the seventh member of the Agreement. Current members include Bangladesh, China, India, Lao PDR, Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka.
ESCAP, in collaboration with Rehabilitation International and the Nippon Foundation, organized the “Asia-Pacific Meeting on Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction: Changing Mindsets through Knowledge” in Sendai, Japan, on 22 and 23 April 2014.
The ESCAP-Sasakawa Award for disability-inclusive business in Asia-Pacific will recognize businesses that provide enabling working environments, deliver inclusive products and services and/or are innovative in their approach to disability inclusiveness. The award is open to entrepreneurs, national enterprises and multinational enterprises based and operating in any of the 58 countries and territories of the ESCAP region. Nominations for the Award closed on 19 August 2013. Winners will be announced in mid-November 2013.
As Chair of the Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM), ESCAP, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) Asia-Pacific, jointly established in late 2012 the "RCM/UNDG Asia-Pacific Thematic Working Group on Youth.”
Asia-Pacific arm of the UN Marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women The United Nations Secretary-General’s campaign “UNiTE to End Violence Against Women” got off to a powerful start in the Asian and Pacific region, with a high-profile event held at the United Nations Conference Centre on 25 November and attended by HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha and HE Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, Prime Minister of Thailand. “All forms of violence against women [...] constitute a violation of human rights and a degradation of dignity and gender equality.
The 6th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (6th AMCDRR) presents a unique opportunity to ensure that the Asian and Pacific inputs to the Hyogo Framework for Action 2 reflect the importance of disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction. To deliver this message, ESCAP is participating in the pre-conference consultation on disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction (22 June 2014) and in the side-event on “The ‘how-to’ of disability-inclusive DRR: from awareness to action” (23 June 2014).
ESCAP participated in a workshop on “Designing social protection interventions for developing countries” at the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila, Philippines, 3-5 September 2014. Over 50 social protection experts, including government policy makers, development partners and researchers shared knowledge on issues ranging from the linkages between social protection and inclusive growth, implementation mechanisms to performance indicators.
ESCAP North and Central Asia Office participated in the First Corridor Meeting of Clusters of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan organized by the ESCAP Transport Division in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on 21 February 2014. The meeting was the first cluster meeting at corridor level under the ESCAP project on Capacity Building for Control Authorities and Transport Operators to Improve Efficiency of Cross-border Transport in Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries.
On 17 October 2014, ESCAP conducted an Expert Group Meeting on Paperless Transit Facilitation related to a project entitled “Deepening Regional Connectivity: Strengthening Capacity's of Asian Developing Countries to Increase Intra-regional Trade by Implementing Paperless Trade and Transport Facilitation Systems”. Under the project, the ESCAP Transport Division prepared a study on paperless transit that will form a basis for developing a guide for capacity building of government officials to design and implement paperless transit transport systems.
Building a reliable evidence base is a key to successful implementation of any disability policies and programmes. That is the message conveyed by the ESCAP representative who attended the ASEAN workshop on “Training of Trainers on the Development and Management of Inclusive Programmes and Services for Persons with Disabilities” in Manila from 28 to 30 October 2014.
The 2014 issue of the Transport and Communications Bulletin for Asia and the Pacific (No.84: Transport Services) presents the state of transport services in selected countries, the circumstances that shaped the development of those transport service systems, and their impact on the communities that they serve.
The Meeting was attended by railway experts from countries: India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russian Federation, Thailand and Viet Nam; and organizations: Coordinating Council for Trans-Siberian Railway (CCTT), International Rail Transport Committee (CIT), International Union of Railways (UIC), Organization for Cooperation among Railways (OSJD). The Meeting was organized under the project entitled “Enhancing the Operationalization of the Trans-Asian Railway-Costing, Marketing and Facilitation of Railway Services” that ESCAP secretariat has been implementing with the funding support from the Government of the Russian Federation. Under the project, a study was undertaken with an objective to develop a regional cooperation framework for facilitation of international railway transport. The draft framework was discussed during the regional railway meeting held in Bangkok in October 2014 and it was decided to convene an ad hoc EGM to refine and finalize the Regional Cooperation Framework. The experts discussed various aspects related to facilitation of railway transport in the region and gave suggestions on the draft Regional Cooperation Framework. Accordingly, the Regional Cooperation Framework has been finalized and will be considered for endorsement by member States soon.
The ESCAP Youth Forum on the Implementation of Rio+20, co-organized by the two subregional offices of ESCAP – the East and North-East Asia (ENEA) Office and the North and Central Asia (NCA) Office – held on 19-21 August 2013 at the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, Russian Federation, brought together 29 participants from 11 countries in the two subregions.
The Social Development Division (SDD) delivered the opening statement at the 8th Workability Asia Conference in Pattaya, Thailand on 8 July 2015. The Conference was organized by Workability Thailand and the Redemptorist Foundation, with support extended by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, and the Ministry of Labour, Government of Thailand.
Asia-Pacific economies are continuing to join the World Trade Organization. Following a lengthy multi-year accession process, Kazakhstan became the global trade body's 162nd member on 30th November 2015. This made the Central Asian republic the 35th Asia-Pacific country to join the organization.
Afghanistan is also on the brink of becoming a full WTO member. Ministers meeting in Nairobi in December 2015 approved Afghanistan's membership terms. Afghanistan will have until 30 June 2016 to ratify the deal and would become a full-fledged WTO member 30 days after it notifies the acceptance of its Protocol of Accession to the WTO Director-General. Afghanistan would become the ninth least-developed country to become a WTO member since the organization was established in 1995.
Only 9 of ESCAP's regional members have no current status with the WTO. The attached resource shows the status of all ESCAP member states and associate members at the WTO as of 8th January 2016.