ESCAP-GTI seminar highlights the role of regional and multi-agency cooperation to facilitate trade

Representatives from North-East Asian economies, particularly, trade-related agencies from Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI) member countries, private sector and international organizations such as the WTO, WCO, UNIDO, UNCITRAL, IRU and GIZ, discussed how to facilitate trade in North-East Asia at a seminar on 13 December 2016 in Songdo, Incheon.

“Trade has been identified as one of the key means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and therefore vital in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” noted Dr. Kilaparti Ramakrishna, Head of the East and North-East Asia Office of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). He added that international trade could not be more critical as an engine of inclusive economic growth and underscored the need to balance efforts of liberalization and facilitation with ensuring safe and secure trade for all.

The International Seminar on Trade Facilitation in North-East Asia, jointly organized by the ESCAP East and North-East Asia Office and GTI Secretariat, discussed international initiatives, regional trends and salient issues on trade facilitation with the objective of identifying areas for future cooperation among relevant stakeholders in the region. Specifically, the Seminar participants benefited from knowledge- and experience-sharing in addressing standards-related issues in agriculture trade, challenges and progress in implementing the WTO agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, electronic certifications and mutual recognition arrangements, and private sector perspectives to facilitate trade in North-East Asia and beyond.

Held annually since 2012, the Seminar recognized the major challenges posed by increasing trade protectionism and underlined the importance of transparency and use of technology for better information exchange, multilateral mechanisms such as WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement and ESCAP’s Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific. It also coordinated approach and capacity-building for the agencies involved at-the-borders and behind-the-borders, such as those involved in customs, SPS, quality and standards.

During the Seminar, ESCAP launched its Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report (APTIR) 2016, which gave a broader context for discussion by providing an overview of recent trends and prospects in trade, investment and trade facilitation in the region.