ESCAP discussions to remove bottlenecks to intraregional trade and investment

Senior government representatives of over 30 Asia-Pacific countries met in Bangkok, Thailand, for three days of United Nations-sponsored discussions on removing bottlenecks to intraregional trade and investment, giving special attention to least developed and landlocked developing countries.

The Committee on Trade and Investment, a regional policymakers’ forum convened biannually by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), also focused on the ways developing countries can take advantage of emerging opportunities to maintain dynamic trade and investment growth.

Measures recommended range from simplification of trade procedures through Single Window and Paperless trade, compliance with agricultural product standards and ensuring small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a greater share in international trade to capacity building and promoting the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA).

The discussions were informed by findings in the ESCAP Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2011 released prior to the event which highlighted the need for the region to reduce export reliance on developed world markets and to ensure that all countries in the region have an adequate share in its fast growing trade and investment.

The Committee emphasized the importance of trade facilitation to reduce the cost of transit, documentation, customs clearance and other non-tariff barriers, including cumbersome standards and certification requirements. To facilitate cross-border trade, the Committee called for a regional agreement on electronic trade data and document exchange for Asia and the Pacific.

The full report with tables can be downloaded in pdf format here.