UN kicks off first Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Week

General Press Releases Tuesday November 3, 2009 10:57
Bangkok--3 Nov--UNISBKK
Region needs to rebalance sources of economic growth, ESCAP chief says

The regional arm of the United Nations   in Asia and the Pacific today kicked off a weeklong focus on trade and   investment   issues, with the top UN official here urging a rebalancing of the region’s sources of economic growth.

Noeleen   Heyzer,   UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic   and   Social   Commission   for   Asia   and the Pacific (ESCAP), said research   indicated   that   regional   economic   cooperation could be another driver of growth for a region traditionally reliant on trade with developed countries.

“Some   of   the   world’s   largest   economies are in our region, [and] a more unified   market of East Asian countries would be a potential economic power house and an emerging centre of gravity of the world economy,” she told 150 trade   researchers   and   policymakers at the Asia-Pacific Trade Economists’Conference.   “Strengthening   regional   connectivity   will   leverage   our

complementary strengths and synergies.”

The   two-day   conference   was   the   lead-off   event   for   the   inaugural Asia-Pacific   Trade   and Investment Week, which also will feature the first session   of   ESCAP’s   Committee   on   Trade   and   Investment.   UNCTAD Secretary-General   Supachai   Panitchpakdi is scheduled to deliver a keynote address Thursday to the Committee. Other events during the Week include the OECD/ESCAP Conference on Corporate Responsibility and other workshops.

In her remarks, Dr. Heyzer called for streamlining trade procedures, saying that   average gains from improved trade facilitation would far exceed those that might be achieved through further removal of tariff barriers. She also said   untangling   the   “noodle   bowl”   –   consolidating   the   151   existing bilateral   and regional trade agreements – would encourage increased levels of   economic   integration,   and that trade should contribute to development that would include the poor and be environmentally sustainable.

The   Economists’   Conference   on   “Trade-led   Growth   in   Times   of Crisis” commemorates   the   fifth   anniversary   of   the   Asia-Pacific   Research   and Training   Network   on Trade (ARTNeT), and features discussions by prominent trade   economists. Panellists today noted that although the three countries that have weathered the financial crisis with the least damage were in Asia –   China, India and Indonesia – the global crisis nevertheless required the region’s leaders to fundamentally rethink their trade policies.

“The   global imbalances between savings and investments between the world’s countries   will need to be addressed in order to find real solutions,” said Alan Deardorff, Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan.

Debapriya Bhattacharya, Special Advisor on Least Developed Countries at the UN   Conference   on   Trade and Development (UNCTAD), stressed the need for a global   system   of   exchange   rate   management,   as   current speculation on exchanges rates were sustaining the economic imbalances.

Meanwhile,   Asians   could   no   longer   be   “free-riders on the multilateral trading system,” said Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. “Asian intellectuals need to provide intellectual leadership.”

Also   speaking   today   was   Patrick Low, Chief Economist of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
For     further     information,     please     visit     the     website     <
http://www.unescap.org/tid/tiweek.asp> or contact:
Mr. Marc Proksch
ESCAP Trade and Investment Division
Tel: +(66-2) 288-1680
Email: proksch.unescap@un.org
Ms. Thawadi Pachariyangkun
UN/ESCAP Information Services
Tel: +(66-2) 288-1861
Email: pachariyangkun.unescap@un.org

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