Statistical evidence key to guiding economic policy in Asia-Pacific

Vladivostok, Russia. 31 May 2013.

Photo Credit: UN ESCAP/Siriwat Theerawong
Vladivostok, Russia. 31 May 2013. Photo Credit: UN ESCAP/Siriwat Theerawong

From setting levels of taxation and government budgets to ensuring efficient use of resources to benefit those who need it most, reliable and accurate economic data is critical.

‘Stronger statistical evidence equals better policy decisions for the people of Asia and the Pacific.’ This was the key message at a high level-meeting convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Vladivostok, the Russian Federation this week. Decision makers from national statistical offices, central banks and ministries of finance from 10 countries came together to strengthen macroeconomic statistics.

“Comparable and sound economic data is an indispensable catalyst for regional integration, which is a key priority for ESCAP and our member States,” said Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary via video message. .

Through its Regional Programme for the improvement of Economic Statistics in Asia and the Pacific (RPES), ESCAP has endorsed a Core Set of economic statistics that a country is encouraged to produce for sound economic policy making. For example, a country that cannot estimate quarterly GDP(e) is lacking a key piece of information to monitor economic activities. Similarly, without reliable productivity measures, it is not possible to assess which policies could increase efficiencies in the economy. Unfortunately, these scenarios are a reality for a majority of countries in Asia and the Pacific.

RPES sets out the ambition level and provides a reference for all member States for producing and disseminating basic economic statistics in line with international standards. The high-level meeting in Vladivostok represents a milestone in the implementation of RPES.

“ESCAP supports the implementation of internationally accepted standards across the region not only technically, but also by enhancing dialogue with decision makers, as we saw in Vladivostok today,” said Dr. Akhtar.

The High-level Meeting for Coordinated Implementation of International Standards for Macroeconomic Statistics was convened by ESCAP in Vladivostok from 3 to 4 September in partnership with the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) of the Russian Federation, the United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD), IMF and the National Research University Higher School of Economics.

The meeting highlighted the importance of an integrated approach to economic statistics focusing on recently updated standards on international accounts and the system of national accounts as the main framework integrating economic statistics. The meeting agreed on a Joint Outcome Statement that called for increased political and financial support and enhanced national and international coordination of economic statistics initiatives.

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