The Transport and Communications Bulletin for Asia and the Pacific is a peer-reviewed journal published once a year by the Transport Division (TD) of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). The main objectives of the Bulletin are to provide a medium for the sharing of knowledge, experience, ideas, policy options and information on the development of transport infrastructure and services in the Asia-Pacific region; to stimulate policy-oriented research; and to increase awareness of transport policy issues and responses.
The 2013 edition of the Statistical Yearbook presents concise analyses highlighting major achievements and challenges for the 53 regional ESCAP member States and the five subregions in promoting economic prosperity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability. These analyses are supported with the most up-to-date and comparable data for over 300 indicators covering 32 topics, grouped into eight themes: demographic trends, health, education and knowledge, poverty and insecurity, women’s empowerment, environment, economy, and connectivity.
During the past three decades, the development of highly integrated global value chains in which products are supplied, manufactured and distributed across national boundaries have created a new form of division of labour among Asian economies, especially in North-East and South-East Asia. The rapid growth of global value chains has dramatically changed production patterns, international trade and foreign direct investment in the region, with a notable expansion of intraregional trade through multiple border crossings of parts and components.
Conventional growth strategies have reduced poverty. People now have more access to basic services and more opportunities for mobility and participation. But there are still persistent unmet needs, widening inequalities, and new development challenges such as climate change, intensifying natural disaster and resource depletion. There is a search for growth strategies that better fit a changing economic, social and environmental reality.
Asia-Pacific is the most disaster-prone region of the world. In recent years, it has faced a series of multiple exogenous shocks that transcend geographical boundaries and endanger our communities. The poor and the vulnerable are the ones most affected. Despite the rapid economic growth in the region, many developing countries are increasingly vulnerable to disasters, and the magnitude and frequency of extreme disasters are estimated to rise due to the effects of climate change. This necessitates building resilience of the region to extreme disasters in multidimensional ways.
The present document is based on the forthcoming Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2013 (henceforth the Report), which is the main substantive document prepared for the third session of the Committee on Trade and Investment. The Report comprises two parts. In the first part, there is a focus on trends and developments in trade in merchandise and commercial services, foreign direct investment flows, performance in trade facilitation, and reliance on preferential policies and trade agreements from an Asia-Pacific perspective.
ESCAP focuses on a number of areas of economic and social development in Asia and the Pacific. One of these is trade and investment – a vital engine for growth and integration. Recent decades have seen an enormous expansion in trade and investment flows in the Asia-Pacific region. Regional economies are increasingly part of global value chains. This has helped foster the economic dynamism that has lifted many from poverty and spread prosperity more widely. At the same time, however, too many individuals and communities remain excluded from the benefits of trade and investment.
While transport has been an essential element in the rapid growth and economic development of Asia and the Pacific, the sector is now at a crossroads more than ever before. Rocketing demand for transport services is putting extreme pressure on existing infrastructure at a time when public budgets are constrained and awareness about the negative externalities of transport activities is growing. The challenge is therefore to ensure that today’s transport policies and investments will contribute to a sustainable and inclusive development path for the future.
Trade has the potential to contribute to economic growth and to more and better jobs. Whether trade contributes to growth that is inclusive, in the sense that all people can contribute to and benefit from growth triggered by trade, is likely to depend on country specificities including institutional pre-conditions and policies applied in domains other than trade. This paper identifies specific challenges for making trade inclusive and identifies ways for dealing with them.