The Third Session of the Committee was opened today by Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of ESCAP and Mr. Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand. The Committee represents the member States of ESCAP and provides guidance on ESCAP’s subprogramme on Trade and Investment. The theme of this year’s Committee is ‘Promoting inclusive trade and investment’.
The Committee opened with a launch of the Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2013. The title of this year’s report is ‘Turning the Tide: Towards Inclusive Trade and Investment.’ The report shows that although the Asia-Pacific economies have succeeded in achieving growth that has lifted many out of poverty, the benefits of growth have not been shared by all. Complementary policies are needed to enhance the contribution of trade and investment to inclusive growth. APTIR 2013 was welcomed by member states. Commenting on the APTIR, a delegate congratulated the ESCAP secretariat for excellent work on the Trade and Investment Report saying “this is very interesting work and I hope it is equally useful to the governments in Asia and the Pacific.”
A distinguished panel of guests discussed the Report and highlighted regional challenges in delivering inclusive growth including: the need for responsible business practices; greater support for SMEs; and the need for the multilateral trading system to support development.
The Committee then heard from the heads of ESCAP’s regional institutions - APCTT and CSAM - on their work on technology transfer and sustainable agricultural mechanization, respectively. One delegate noted the contribution of CSAM and pledged further support and co-operation.
Finally, the Committee discussed ESCAP’s work in building innovative platforms and forums for regional co-operation on trade and investment. The Committee heard about a selection of ESCAP’s co-operation mechanisms including: The Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade (ARTNeT) - an open regional network composed of leading trade research institutions and think-tanks across the region; The United Nations Network of Experts for Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific (UNNExT) - a community of knowledge and practice for experts involved in the implementation of electronic trade systems and trade facilitation; the Asia Pacific Business Forum (APBF) - the leading Asian-Pacific platform for public-private sector dialogue; and the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) - a region-wide trade agreement spanning East and South Asia and open to all developing member countries.
Participants in Trade and Investment Week spent one session this morning learning about the importance of having solid evidence when making policy decisions. Evidence-based policymaking implies a process of gathering, critically appraising and using high quality research and analytical evidence to inform policymaking, and assist in policy implementation and development. During today’s session, which was the first out of three during the Trade and Investment week, the participants were introduced, through the examples from the freshly launched APTIR 2013, to how research-based evidence can be translated into policy implications for inclusive trade and investment. The participants were also introduced to several databases containing information on foreign direct investment flows in the region. Commenting on the presentation, a participant from Maldives said: "It was a very useful presentation. The content was well organized and informative."
It is well known, that complicated and slow customs procedures can increase the costs of trade and discourage economic activity. By easing the flow of trade governments and businesses alike can save both time and money. Today’s workshop, organized with UNECE, introduced participants to the newly developed UNECE Trade Facilitation Implementation Guide (TFIG). This online Guide provides convenient access to the various standards, recommendations, good practices, guidelines and other tools developed by global and regional organizations around the World, including those of ESCAP and the United Nations Network of Experts for Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific (UNNExT).