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06 December 2023, 10:00 - 11:30 Central European Time | Open meeting

Plénière F, CICG, Geneva, Switzerland
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The 2023 Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report, a collaborative effort between UNESCAP, UNCTAD, and UNIDO on “Unleashing Digital Trade and Investment for Sustainable Development”, will be launched in this session. Tailored for policymakers and business leaders, the session will begin with a succinct presentation of the report's principal findings and suggestions. Subsequently, experts will provide insights and discuss strategies to optimize digital trade and investment's contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Organized by: UNESCAP, UNCTAD, UNIDO.

Opening remarks

Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana
Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana
Executive Secretary, ESCAP (pre-recorded)
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Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana was appointed Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) on 13 September 2018.

Prior to joining ESCAP, Ms. Alisjahbana was Professor of Economics at Universitas Padjadjaran in Bandung, Indonesia, a position she assumed in 2005. She joined Universitas Padjadjaran as a lecturer in 1988. Since 2016, she has served as Director for the Center for Sustainable Development Goals Studies at Universitas Padjadjaran and Vice Chair of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences.

She also serves on the Governing Board of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), and member of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences (Akademi Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia - AIPI), the Forum of Statistics Community (Forum Masyarakat Statistik or Advisory Council of the Indonesian Statistics), the International Advisory Board of the Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies and Council Member of the Regional Science Association International (RSAI).

From 2009 to 2014, she was Minister of National Development Planning and the Head of the National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), Indonesia. She served as Co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation from 2012 to 2014. From 2009 to 2014, she was Alternate Governor of the World Bank and Alternate Governor of the Asian Development Bank representing the government of Indonesia. In 2016, she was a member of the High Level Independent Team of Advisors to support the ECOSOC Dialogue on the longer term positioning of the United Nations Development System in the context of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

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Rebeca Grynspan
Secretary General, UNCTAD (pre-recorded)
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ebeca Grynspan, of Costa Rica, was appointed the eighth Secretary-General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on 13 September 2021. She is the first woman to hold this position in the history of the organization. She is also coordinator of the Task Team of the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance set up by the UN Secretary-General to help support developed and developing countries face the economic shocks related to the war in Ukraine.

Over the course of her career, Ms. Grynspan has held numerous high-level positions.Prior to her UNCTAD appointment, she was the Secretary-General of the Ibero-American Conference from 2014 to 2021, the first woman to lead the organization. She is also a former Under Secretary-General of the UN and Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and a former Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Prior to joining the UN, she served as Vice President of Costa Rica from 1994 to 1998. She also held the positions of Minister of Housing, Minister Coordinator of Economic and Social Affairs and Deputy Finance Minister. In addition, she was a member of the High-Level Panel on Financing for Development.

A renowned advocate of human development, Ms. Grynspan has helped to focus the world’s attention on relevant issues such as the reduction of inequality and poverty, gender equality, South-South cooperation as a tool for development, and the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, among others. She was also a delegate to the UN Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti, a group consisting of the Haitian Government, the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, and other prominent international partners.

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Gerd Müller
Director General, UNIDO (pre-recorded)
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Gerd Müller, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as of 10 December 2021, has had various leadership positions from an early stage in his career. Following his tenure as a Member of the European Parliament, he was appointed Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in 2005. In 2013, he was appointed Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development in the German Government. Gerd Müller has many years of experience in the fields of multilateral cooperation, sustainability, sustainable management and innovative agriculture. Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on climate action, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Beijing Declaration on Gender Equality are key focus areas of his work.

Panel Discussion

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Torbjorn Fredriksson
Head of the E-Commerce and Digital Economy programme, UNCTAD
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Torbjörn Fredriksson is the Head of the E-commerce and Digital Economy Branch at the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The branch’s work covers the Digital Economy Report, the eTrade for all initiative, eTrade for Women, the E-commerce Week various capacity-building activities, and the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-commerce and the Digital Economy. He joined the UN in 2000. Before joining UNCTAD, he held positions at the Invest in Sweden Agency and the Swedish Ministry of Industry and Commerce. He has an MSc in International Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics.

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Frank Van Rompaey
UNIDO Representative to the United Nations and International Organizations in Switzerland
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Frank Van Rompaey is Head of the UNIDO Liaison Office in Geneva. In this capacity he engages in policy advocacy for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialization -in the context of trade, investment and employment discussions in Geneva- and develops partnerships with Geneva- based institutions in support of countries' Industrialization efforts.
An economist by training, he has been with UNIDO for over 20 years- working in various capacities including in research and policy advisory functions. His main area of interest and expertise lies in industrial policy and in the strategies and policies for structural economic transformation. He has published on the topic of environment and industry in developing countries. As a UNIDO representative in several African countries, Frank has worked on technical cooperation programmes promoting sustainable industrial development. Prior to joining UNIDO, he worked in the private sector. Frank holds a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Brussels.

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Valerie Picard
Head of Trade, International Chamber of Commerce
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Valerie Picard is the Deputy Director for the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation based at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Based in Paris, Valerie leads ICC’s contribution to the Alliance working with her team to leverage the ICC’s network of businesses, national committees and chambers of commerce to support the work of the Alliance and deliver trade facilitation projects. She previously worked at Bolloré Transport & Logistics advising on legal matters relating to public-private partnerships and the development and operation of ports and terminals in Africa and Asia. Valerie holds a BA in Government from Smith College and a JD/LL.M from Duke University School of Law.

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Pimchanok Pitfield
Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the WTO and WIPO
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Pimchanok Vonkorpon Pitfield has been Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the WTO and WIPO since March 2021. Prior to this, she was Director-General of Trade Policy and Strategy Office (TPSO) at the Ministry of Commerce, Thailand. TPSO was established in 2015 to be the “Think Tank” agency of the MOC with Pimchanok leading the Office since its beginning and steering it to become one of the leading and respected economic agencies in Thailand today. She introduced several projects that brought TPSO into the “New Economy” era such as Trade Intelligence System (TIS) or “Big Data” unit for the Ministry, “Tracethai.com” - a traceability system for organic rice using Blockchain and a first-ever comprehensive data unit for Thai logistics operators. Pimchanok’s early career was focused on trade negotiations particularly on services, investment, environment, labour and e-commerce. Her negotiations experiences spanned from multilateral- (WTO), regional- (ASEAN and APEC) to bilateral-level (FTA), built through her works in Thailand and postings in Geneva and Brussels. In recent years, she has expanded her expertise on global economic analysis, strategic thinking and the new technology such as blockchain, platform and digital economy while retaining her keen interests on sustainability issues. Pimchanok was educated in New Zealand and Japan and attended training courses at WTO, Harvard Kennedy School and l’ENA. She was Spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce, Representative on the Thai National Wage Committee and Advisor to numerous committees at Thai Senate and the private sector’s trade and industry associations.

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Ratnakar Adhikari
Executive Director, Secretariat for the Enhanced Integrated Framework at the World Trade Organization
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Mr Ratnakar Adhikari has been serving the Executive Secretariat for the Enhanced Integrated Framework at the World Trade Organization as its Executive Director since October 2013.

Prior to this assignment, Mr Adhikari was the Chief Executive Director of South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), a Kathmandu-based regional think tank. Previously, he served, among other things, as a Senior Adviser to the National Planning Commission, Government of Nepal, and as a Trade Programme Specialist for the United Nations Development Programme, Asia Pacific Regional Centre in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Mr Adhikari has conducted extensive research as well as published in the areas of international trade, regional economic integration, Aid for Trade, competition policy and intellectual property rights, particularly from the perspective of the LDCs.

He obtained his PhD from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom; his Master of International Law and Economics from the World Trade Institute, Switzerland; and his Master of Commerce from the University of Delhi, India.

Presentation and moderator

Mr. Yann Duval
Yann Duval
Chief, Trade Policy and Facilitation Section, Trade, Investment and Innovation Division (TIID), ESCAP
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Yann Duval is currently Chief of Trade Policy and Facilitation Section at UN-ESCAP, the regional branch of the United Nations Secretariat for Asia and the Pacific. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Duval has conducted research and delivered technical assistance and advisory services on trade policy and facilitation throughout Asia and the Pacific, including on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. He spearheaded the development of the Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade (ARTNeT), as well as, interalia, the creation of the ESCAP-World Bank Trade Cost Database, the UN Global Survey on Trade Facilitation and Paperless Trade Implementation and the online Trade Intelligence and Negotiation Adviser (TINA).

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Witada Anukoonwattaka
Economic Affairs Officer, TPFS, TIID, ESCAP
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Ms. Witada Anukoonwattaka is a core researcher for the division, in particular the Trade Policy and Facilitation Section, and leading the DigiSRII 1.0 project of ESCAP. Her research areas cover economic impacts of trade and investment policies as well as contemporary trade  issues of Asia-Pacific countries including trade tensions, global value chains, regional integration, services and digital-trade policies, and trade policies to support sustainable development.  She has also run and served as a resource person for capacity-building programmes, particularly those related to evidence-based policymaking and research. Before joining ESCAP, she was a lecturer of the Faculty of Economics at Thammasat University, Thailand, and also worked  in the advisory team of Thailand’s minister of industry, foreign affairs, and commissioner of Thailand’s National Telecommunications Commission. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Melbourne, Australia. 

for more information, please contact

Trade, Investment and Innovation Division +66 2 288-1234 [email protected]
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