Trade and Investment


Trade and Investment are powerful engines for growth and integration. The expansion of trade across the Asia-Pacific in recent years has been a key driver of economic dynamism and rising prosperity. Participation in global networks of production, trade and investment has created employment, raised incomes and helped spread knowledge and technology throughout the region. But not all individuals and communities have been able to benefit from trade-led growth, and too many barriers to inclusion remain.

ESCAP's objective is to promote trade, investment and transfer of technology for inclusive and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. Regional co-operation can facilitate growth in trade and investment flows by building an open and transparent trading system. Using trade and investment policies to support inclusive growth and sustainable development is a key regional priority. We work with Member States to ensure that the benefits of trade and investment are extended to all countries, communities and individuals.

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Foreign Direct Investment

Foreign direct investment (FDI) has emerged as a principal source of financing for development and can create employment and spread technologies and ideas. Growing FDI flows in Asia and the Pacific have helped boost regional integration and growth. ESCAP assists countries in attracting and facilitating FDI for sustainable and inclusive growth.

Business Development

Business has played a central role in driving economic growth and innovation, while creating employment and generating income through skills development and productivity improvement. ESCAP provides technical assistance to help governments formulate policies for a conducive business environment and facilitate public and private sector dialogue including through the ESCAP Business Advisory Council (EBAC).

Sustainable Business Practices

ESCAP is working together with governments, companies and entrepreneurs to support the adoption of sustainable business practices.

Trade Agreements

Trade agreements lower barriers to trade and can boost trade among the partners. Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the number of preferential trade agreements. ESCAP helps countries negotiate agreements that promote inclusive growth and development. ESCAP is also the secretariat to the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA).

Trade and Investment Research

ESCAP research on trade and investment helps policymakers make important decisions. Our regular annual reports, as well as frequent working papers, provide crucial insights into emerging issues and the latest trends. ESCAP also helps develop the research capacity in Member States themselves on which effective decision-making depends, including through the Asia Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade (ARTNeT).

Trade Facilitation

Cumbersome trade procedures discourage economic activity and make it difficult for firms and countries to participate in regional and global production networks. ESCAP assists countries, particularly least developed and landlocked developing countries (LDCs and LLDCs), with trade facilitation measures that help simplify processes and regulations. The United Nations Network of Experts for Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific (UNNExT) is the main platform through which ESCAP delivers its activities.

Trade Policy

Decision makers need to determine many crucial elements of trade policy including: improving market access; negotiating trade agreements with positive developmental impacts; and coordinating measures complementary to trade policy. ESCAP advice, technical assistance and capacity building supports effective and inclusive policy-making.