Trade and Investment Week kicks off with responsible business practice conference

Executive Secretary of ESCAP Noeleen Heyzer (left) and Deputy Secretary-General of OECD Rintaro Tamaki (right) sign a memorandum of understanding between the two organizations.

Photo Credit: UN ESCAP Photo

Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Week 2013 opened in Bangkok today with a regional conference on responsible business practices jointly organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The ESCAP – OECD Conference on Regional Cooperation in Advancing Responsible Business Practices provided a platform for discussion on what governments can do at the national level and through regional cooperation to collectively put in place more responsible business practices based on common standards, principles and understandings.
Key conference findings suggest that Asia-Pacific governments should take a stronger lead in guiding and promoting responsible business practices and that this can be done by promoting a business climate that rewards good behaviour.

Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP said stakeholders must be involved in the process and to do this a regional road map for collaboration in promoting responsible business practices should be developed:

“Responsible business can be a generator of innovation, a driver of new technologies, a primary source of jobs, and the life-blood of economic growth and human development,” Dr. Heyzer told the conference.

“We also know, however, that irresponsible business can exploit people and resources, intensify inequalities, destroy ecosystems, and cripple whole economies. While forging a better development path requires commitment and partnership from all stakeholders including governments, business, civil society and communities.”

OECD Deputy Secretary-General, and former Deputy Minister of Finance of Japan, Mr. Rintaro Tamaki concurred: “Responsible business conduct is an essential component of inclusive growth, an objective we all share. Governments have a critical role to play. Developed by the OECD, the government-to-government approach with focal points on RBC could be replicated on a regional level in Asia-Pacific. There is a wealth of experience on national, regional and international levels that could assist these efforts.”

Memorandum of Understanding

A Memorandum of Understanding geared towards solidifying the cooperation and collaboration between ESCAP and OECD was also signed at today’s conference.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Dr. Heyzer welcomed the new MoU, noting corporate responsibility and responsible business practices will be a key area of collaboration between the two organisations.

Other areas for collaboration under the Memorandum are emerging trade policy issues, investment policy and promotion, trade facilitation, value chain development and small and medium enterprise policies, aid for trade, public-private partnerships for infrastructure, as well as statistics and low-carbon green growth.

The Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Week runs from 18-22 November 2013 and will be attended by over 100 Government officials from more than 30 countries across the region.