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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

20 June 2022


Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to speak at this closing event for the UN Development Account Project on Transport and Trade Connectivity in the Age of Pandemics.

I acknowledge the presence and thank our partners, UNCTAD and our sister regional commissions, for their support of the project.

Allow me to highlight a few of the project’s achievements in Asia and the Pacific.

First, we have been able to incorporate a module on trade facilitation in times of crisis into the UN Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation.

Moreover, in the context of the entry into force of the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific, we have implemented readiness assessments for cross-border paperless trade, identifying gaps and good practices for countries to learn from, and contributed to regional discussions for advancing cross-border paperless trade.

Through the project, we also supported the Global Initiative on Model Provisions for Trade in Times of Crisis and Pandemic in Regional and Other Trade Agreements. The results were released at global and regional dialogues, including the WTO Public Forum in September 2021 and the Global Course on Negotiating Regional Trade Agreements for Trade in Times of Crisis and Pandemic, benefiting more than 600 trade negotiators and policy analysts across the globe.

As far as transport is concerned, the project helped to position resilience at the heart of the regional transport cooperation in Asia and the Pacific, formalized in the new Regional Action Programme on Sustainable Transport Development (2022-2026).

The work on smart transport solutions along the Asian Highway Network and the Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) network strengthened the regional approach to the digitalization of transport, now included as one of the thematic areas of the Regional Action Programme.

Our member States are also considering a new annex to the TAR Agreement to address electronic information exchange along the TAR network.

To help countries harmonize their response to disruptions, the ESCAP Model Subregional Agreement on Transport Facilitation has been updated to include crisis-response provisions.

We have also developed the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Guidelines for Resilient and Sustainable International Road Freight Transport Connectivity in ASEAN and offered subregional training on transport connectivity in the pandemic context.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our strategy for the project’s activities is clustered around three areas: contactless, seamless and collaborative solutions. While the first two relied on global norms and standards for trade and transport facilitation, the third cluster fostered regional and sectoral cooperation.

In this way, we have the combined strength of global learning and global norms with regional specificities and expertise.

I hope that we will have other opportunities to use this approach that has proved to be so beneficial to our member States. 

ESCAP would particularly welcome collaboration in further enhancing the resilience and sustainability of global supply chains in the post-pandemic era by promoting robust and climate-smart trade and transport connectivity.

It has been truly an honour for ESCAP to co-lead the implementation of this unique project, and I would like to express my deep appreciation to UNCTAD, ECE, ECA, ECLAC and ESCWA for their hard work, creativity and unwavering commitment to preserving trade and transport connectivity in our respective regions and worldwide. 

Thank you very much.

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