Highlights from the Fourth Day of Trade and Investment Week

21 November 2013

Strategic Future for Trade and Investment discussed by Committee

On its second day, the third session of the Committee on Trade and Investment continued its discussions on the topic of promoting inclusive trade and investment.

The committee began by discussing the linkages between the work of ESCAP in the field of trade and investment and relevant global initiatives and developments including: the UN Conference on Sustainable Development and the post-2015 agenda; progress towards the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali; Recent General Assembly resolutions; and specific initiatives for subgroups of countries. Acknowledging the importance of ESCAP work, and the complementarity between the subprogramme on trade and investment and the global agenda, one delegate commented “We appreciate the collaboration between ESCAP and other international organizations which is creating good synergies between organizations to save resources." A call was especially made for ESCAP to continue providing its valuable support and capacity building for countries after the WTO’s Bali meeting.

Next the committee considered how ESCAP could further bolster its work in partnership with other organizations. Representatives from the ADB and OECD shared their thoughts on how best to build on their successful working relationship with ESCAP. Delegates congratulated ESCAP and the OECD on the signing this week of an MoU on future collaboration and called for greater efforts to bring the integrated resources of different international organizations to bear on the challenges facing the region. Delegates also discussed the functioning of the trade and investment committee and the future strategic direction of the ESCAP subprogramme on trade and investment.

The Committee finished the day by considering regional trade facilitation, in particular implementation of ESCAP resolution 68/3 on enabling paperless trade. Delegates welcomed progress to-date and called for further discussions to make progress towards a regional agreement on trade facilitation. One delegate remarked that the existing draft text was a “good start for facilitating trade in the region.”

Training on Evidence-based Policymaking in Trade and Investment - Day 2

Evidence-based policy making is using data and high quality research in the process of making policy decisions, including recognizing issues, policy choices and sequencing, monitoring and evaluation of the results of policies that have been put in place, and forecasting future developments. As good data is a fundamental input into the evidence-based policymaking process, the second day of the Training on Evidence-based Policymaking in Trade and Investment introduced participants to databases which are useful to policymakers and researchers alike. During today’s session, the participants learnt about databases and indicators on trade costs and trade facilitation. A participant noted that the session was especially helpful in terms of learning about data that supports trade policymaking.

Protecting the environment and respecting intellectual property rights

Today marked the first day of the Workshop on the Environmentally Safe Disposal of IP Infringing Goods jointly organized by ESCAP, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The workshop provides guidance to government officials from customs, environment and law enforcement offices from ASEAN member states on utilizing and formulating appropriate policy measures for the safe disposal of intellectual property rights infringing goods. Today’s topics included updates from ASEAN member states on the status of trade on IP-infringing goods and the disposal methods utilized in each country. In addition, government officials discussed both existing international norms and national legislation concerning intellectual property rights alongside the legislative and practical frameworks for the environmentally safe disposal of IP infringing goods. As noted by the meeting participants, not all current disposal practices are environmentally sound and that there is a need to have an additional area of work for IP infringing goods which concerns the environmental aspects of the trade and disposal of them.

Introducing participants to the Trade Facilitation Implementation Guide – Day 2

The regional workshop on Global Supply Chain and Trade Facilitation Implementation Guide discussed the standards, recommendations, good practices, guidelines and other tools developed by global and regional organizations around the world to help simplify complicated and slow customs procedures that increase the costs of trade and discourage economic activity. The workshop jointly organized with UNECE, continued from yesterday and informed participants if the newly developed UNECE Trade Facilitation Implementation Guide (TFIG). The topics covered today included negotiations at the WTO, reducing delays at the border, rationalizing trade documents, and business process analysis methods.