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Bangkok - 02 Mar 2023


The digital environment is altering traditional understandings of how we trade, what we produce, and what we consume. Digital trade is broadly defined as trade enabled through growing digital connectivity. It is widely recognized that digital trade has great potential to help address the societal and environmental goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development when treated well. It can also hamper achieving those objectives when handled poorly.

In that context, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), together with collaborators including the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), and the Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade (ARTNeT), launch this call for papers to collect contributions to better understand the impacts of digital trade and investment on Sustainable Development Goals and policy implications.

The contributions include empirical evidence, descriptive statistics, or case studies. It should draw clear policy conclusions from the research findings. The selected papers will be peer-reviewed by the advisory group to be published as part of the Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report (APTIR) on “Unleashing digital trade and investment for sustainable development” background paper series. Selected contributors will be invited to present in a virtual ARTNeT conference to be organized in late 2023 (date to be confirmed).



Theme 1 The role of digital trade and investment in sustainable development

Papers in theme one should contribute to addressing one of the following topics:

  • The roles of digital trade and investment on sustainable development goals (SDGs).
  • the trends and patterns in digital trade and investment in Asia and the Pacific,
  • the implications of digital trade and investment trends on countries with special needs[1] in Asia and the Pacific

Theme 2 Digital policy trends affecting trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific

Papers in theme 2 contribute to addressing one of the following topics:

  • Trends and patterns of digital policies in Asia-Pacific
  • Implications of digital policies on trade in different goods and services both in traditional and digital sectors
  • Potential impacts of other policies and regulations (beyond digital regulations) that can have a material impact on digital trade and investment.

Theme 3 Multilateral and Regional Cooperation Trends in Digital Trade and Investment

Papers in theme 3 contribute to addressing one of the following topics:

  • The ongoing trends in multilateral and regional cooperation initiatives related to digital trade and investment.
  • A comparative analysis of the coverage and the level of the bindingness of various regional cooperation initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region

Theme 4 Promoting sustainable and inclusive development through digital trade policy and digitally driven industrialization

Papers in theme 4 contribute to addressing one of the following topics:

  • Good practices in trade policy, industrialization policy, or digital trade facilitation policy in selected Asia-Pacific countries
  • Promoting sustainable and inclusive development of countries with special needs through digital trade and digitally-driven industrialization

Theme 5 Attracting digital FDI to cultivate a sustainable and inclusive digital economy.

Papers in theme 5 contribute to addressing one of the following topics:

  • Making investing and attracting FDI in the digital economy more sustainable and inclusive.
  • Good practices of policies related to MNCs and GVCs in the digital economy of developing Asia-Pacific countries

Theme 6 the impact of different trade and investment-related policy scenarios on sustainable and inclusive development  

Papers in theme 6 contribute to addressing one of the following topics:

  • the impact of regulatory cooperation in different digital trade-related policy
  • the effect of regulatory cooperation among different groups of economies
  • the impact of investment in digital-trade/economy-related sectors.



Expression of interests / applications should be submitted in English, and should include the following:

1) contact information and resume of the authors

2) an extended abstract (300 words and up to 500 words) outlining:

 • structure of the paper

 • the main issues, hypotheses, arguments, references

 • country/regional focus,

 • data or case studies to be considered

The call for applications is open until 19 March 2023. Successful candidates will be notified on 31 March 2023and invited to submit a draft paper (5,000-8,000 words), due by 30 April 2023.

Please send your application via email to Ms Witada Anukoonwattaka at [email protected] with a copy to Ms Nucharat Tuntiwigit at [email protected] and Ms Natnicha Sutthivana at [email protected]


1. Only selected candidate(s) would be contacted. If there is no feasible proposal, research on that topic will NOT be carried out.

2. Co-authorship is permitted.



Shortlisted young research contributors will be considered for an Early Career Researcher award. The award is intended for early career researchers who submit a highly-quality, original, and innovative paper. An eligible candidate for the award is the lead author of the paper selected and is a PhD student or a young researcher with at most five years of full-time research/academia work experience.

The award winner will receive the following:

  • A certificate of achievement from the United Nations
  • Invitation to apply for a modest consultancy contract at the United Nations ESCAP’s Division of Trade, Investment and Innovation will be presented to the lead author of the winning paper for work during a term that is mutually agreed upon between the United Nations ESCAP and the award winner. The contract will be issued in line with United Nations rules and regulations.


  • Only the award winner would be contacted. If there is no qualified paper, the award will NOT be carried out.



Should you have any questions, please email Ms Witada Anukoonwattaka ([email protected]) with a copy to Ms Nucharat Tuntiwigit ([email protected]) and Ms Natnicha Sutthivana ([email protected]).

 [1] Countries with Special Needs include the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), and Small Islands Developing States (SIDs) that exclude Singapore.

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