Developing countries of Asia-Pacific call for deeper regional connectivity Red tape in trade identified as a key bottleneck

General Press Releases Thursday October 7, 2010 14:41
Bangkok--7 Oct--UN

Over two hundred participants of the Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum from 33 countries in Asia and the Pacific made an urgent call on their governments to work closely with all stakeholders to streamline international trade procedures and ensure that regulations are simple, consistent and transparent.

The hidden cost of red tape amounts to US$300 billion a year in the Asia-Pacific region. It still takes 30 days to move goods from factory to ship deck in countries of the region, compared with 10 days on average for OECD countries.

Brought together by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia (UNESCAP), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Europe (UNECE), and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 5-6 October, participants also called for greater regional co-operation to advance paperless trading systems and increase trade in agricultural products.

The Malaysian Deputy Minister of Transport, Y.B. Datuk Abdul Rahim bin Bakri, said that the importance of regional connectivity has never been more pressing.
“As a regional community, we need to step up trade facilitation to reduce trade costs and promote growth and regional integration in order to counteract declining markets of the West.”

Ravi Ratnayake, Director of the Trade and Investment Division of ESCAP, said that “the somewhat shocking reality is that Asia-Pacific is better connected to Europe and America than with itself.” He added, “our research shows that, on average, trade costs of the region with North America and Europe are 20% less than those with itself.”

Cumbersome border procedures, sometimes requiring literally hundreds of approval documents in the region, make it easier and cheaper for countries to trade with far away developed countries than it is to do business with the country next door.

Naomi Chakwin, Director of the East Asia Department of ADB highlighted the advantages of paperless trading systems.

“The international supply chains are looking for ways to move away from a paper based documents towards paperless information exchange. Governments want to reduce the risk of global trade through less and better data and increased efficiency. It even fits in well with the global move toward eco-efficiency with aspirations for ‘green trade corridors’.”

She added, that “there is still much to do to achieve paperless trading systems in the region”, and all development partners “need to work together, to pool our resources and share our expertise with one another to overcome the obstacles to paperless trade.”

Outlining the next steps for the region, the Commerce Minister of Bangladesh, M. Faruk Khan, said that the success of trade facilitation measures depend on “an effective and integrated approach at the macro level.” He added, “as far as I personally feel, capacity building based on a thorough need assessment should be the immediate objective of international agencies like the UNESCAP and ADB.” He called upon the United Nations Network of Experts for Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific—UNNExT—to help developing countries in this endeavor.

The participants adopted a Road Map at the end of the Forum to push forward trade facilitation reforms at national and regional levels. Key recommendations include working towards a regional agreement for the legal recognition and electronic exchange of trade data and documents.

Agricultural trade facilitation, particularly the need for governments and international development organizations to help overcome sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to trade, was highlighted. The Forum also proposed the development of sub-regional single window facilities to facilitate submission and processing of trade related data and documents in South Asia and Central Asia, building on the experience of ASEAN and UNNExT experts.

The Forum was held in collaboration with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia’s DagangNet, the ASEAN Secretariat, USAID, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the Global Facilitation Partnership for Transport and Trade (GFP).

For more information, please visit
or contact:
Ms. Shamika Sirimanne
Chief, Trade Facilitation Section, ESCAP
Tel: +66-2 288-1638
Ms. Thawadi Pachariyangkun
UN ESCAP Information Services
Tel: +66-2 288-1861
Mobile: +66-81 634-3876
Email: or

Latest Press Release

Michelin starred al fresco dining experience at Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok highlights benefits of fresh produce

Internationally acclaimed restaurateur, Chef Henrik Yde Andersen, whose gastronomic empire includes more than 20 well known establishments, brings his personal take on vegetarian fine dinging to Bangkok. The visionary chef behind the Michelin starred...

Chef Sitichot Wanso of Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok Wins Two Competitions At Thailands 24th International Culinary Cup

Our congratulations to Chef Sitichot Wanso (right), Junior Sous Chef of the Silver Waves Chinese Restaurant – pictured above with Chef Spencer Kell (left), Executive Chef of Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok – who was recently awarded two...


The sale will include over one million new English books at 50%-90% off from November 30th to December 9th, 2018 at CMECC From the recent success of the Big bad Wolf Book Sale in Bangkok in August, the biggest book sale in the world is returning to...

Perfect World CEO Dr. Robert H. Xiao attends the 2018 World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province

Dr. Robert H. Xiao delivered a keynote speech about the internet and cultural exchanges during the event. The 5th World Internet Conference was held in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, China between November 7th and 9th, 2018. The event brought together 1,500...

HSBC Collaborates with EDF Foundation to Enhance Thai Needy Students Future Skills

HSBC, in collaboration with the EDF Foundation, announced the launch of "Bank on a Bright Career with HSBC" project as part of the HSBC Youth Opportunities Programme (HYOP). A one-year activity commencing in December 2018 will benefit some 3,000 students...

Related Topics