Asia-Pacific countries meet at ESCAP forum to review merits of closer regional integration amidst global economic uncertainty

Asia-Pacific countries began deliberations here today at an annual United Nations forum to review policy options for deepening integration within the region to maintain its dynamism while making it inclusive and sustainable, amidst continuing global economic uncertainty.

Representatives of 60 governments in the region are attending the 68th session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) against a backdrop of stalling growth in developed countries together with high and fluctuating commodity prices threatening Asia-Pacific economic dynamism and progress towards international development goals.

“If 2011 has shown us anything, it is that Asia and the Pacific is again confronted by a deeply challenging external environment, and that the path to shared future prosperity can best be travelled together,” United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Dr. Noeleen Heyzer said in her address to the Senior Officials Segment of the Commission session.

“Regional solutions, through regional cooperation, are the way for us to forge more sustainable economic growth, close development gaps, and lift tens of millions of people out of poverty. Let’s work together for an inclusive, resilient and sustainable future for Asia and the Pacific – where we grow together and share collective prosperity.”

The 17 to 23 May ESCAP Session which has as its theme ‘Growing together – Economic integration for an inclusive and sustainable Asia-Pacific century’ will focus on a four-track strategy to promote shared, sustainable and inclusive growth in the region by promoting market integration, physical connectivity, financial cooperation and joint action to address common vulnerabilities arising from shrinking resources and climate threats.

The ESCAP Session comprises the 17 to 19 May Senior Officials Segment followed by a high-level Ministerial Segment from 21 to 23 May.

The senior officials meeting will finalise recommendations for political endorsement by Asia-Pacific countries during the ministerial segment which will be opened by the Prime Minister of Thailand. The Prime Minister of Samoa and senior government leaders from other Asia-Pacific countries will attend the Commission session next week which will feature two high-level panel discussions on regional economic integration and promoting inclusive development amidst global economic and financial turbulence.

A high-level consultation on 23 May will provide Asia-Pacific developing countries an opportunity to help articulate a regional perspective for the upcoming G20 Mexico Summit.

For more information on the 68th session of the Commission, see http://www.unescap.org/commission/68/