UN proposes practical solutions for a trade-led economic recovery in the Asia-Pacific region

The current economic crisis provides an opportunity for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to re-evaluate their export markets and reposition themselves for the future, suggests a new UN publication.

What started as a financial crisis in the West has turned into a trade crisis regionally. This has underlined the importance of export as a driver of economic growth in the Asia Pacific region. Trade will necessarily help lead economic recovery. Navigating Out of the Crisis: A Trade-led Recovery – A practical guide for trade policymakers in Asia and the Pacific, is a product of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) – the regional arm of the UN. It provides policymakers with a number of trade and investment policy tools that can be used to counter the economic and social impacts of the crisis.

The guide underlines the importance of investing in intraregional trade. “South-South trade and investment has significant growth potential in the Asia-Pacific region” says Mr. Ravi Ratnayake, Director of the Trade and Investment Division of ESCAP. “Although intraregional trade has been growing, many of the countries in the region still trade more with the United States and Europe than with each other.”

The guide outlines several practical solutions for achieving further market integration in order to realize the full potential of intraregional trade in Asia and the Pacific, including through trade facilitation measures and enhanced South-South Generalized Systems of Preferences.

Countries should also take steps to develop and maintain the export competitiveness of their national industries. For example, national trade promotion organizations can assist companies by disseminating information on prices, distribution networks, country and company risks, and trade finance availability.

The guide furthermore encourages governments to seize the current economic crisis as an opportunity to invest in long-term competitiveness by improving their business and investment environments and by embracing the development and use of green technology.

One solution ESCAP stresses is for countries to establish national crisis management committees. Ideally these would include relevant ministries -commerce, finance, industry, labour, social affairs - as well as representatives from business and civil society. Such committees would be able to quickly consult all stakeholders and enable crisis-related actions to be enacted swiftly.

The practical guide is available at: http://www.unescap.org/publications/detail.asp?id=1326.