The Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Week brings together government officials and other stakeholders every two years for discussions on issues of importance to trade and investment policy making in the region.
Against the backdrop of global economic turbulence, the first Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Week in 2009 focused on the impact of the financial crisis on trade and investment in the region. Following this, the Second Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Week was held in July 2011and looked at trade and investment opportunities in the post-crisis world, including in services and climate smart trade and investment.
This year, the theme of the week is “Promoting Inclusive Trade and Investment”. This is also the focus of the Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2013, which highlights current regional trends, and discusses policies to ensure inclusive development outcomes from trade and investment.
Drawing on the presence of senior policy makers from across the Asia-Pacific region, the week hosts a number of engaging events related to trade and investment policy making, covering areas from trade facilitation and trade agreements, to sustainable agriculture, science and technology capacity building, and responsible business practices.
Highlights of the week include:
- The ESCAP-OECD Conference on Regional Cooperation in Advancing Responsible Business Practices, 18 November 2013
- High-level Dialogue on “Reviving Multilateralism: Road to Bali and Beyond”, 19 November 2013
- Global Trade Facilitation Conference, 18-19 November 2013
The week will culminate in the Third session of the ESCAP Committee on Trade and Investment.
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Oct 10, 2013 (Menafn – M2 PRESSWIRE via COMTEX) –Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for enhanced partnership between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as the two bodies work together for peace, human rights and sustainable development across the region.
“You have a tremendous opportunity to position the ASEAN region for the 21st century. The United Nations is proud to be your partner, and we value your openness in furthering this partnership,” Mr. Ban told participants at the Fifth ASEAN-UN Summit, held in Brunei Darussalam.
He noted that the partnership between the two bodies is growing “broader and deeper,” and highlighted four areas where it can produce tangible results: regional connectivity; sustainable development; human rights; and peace and security. ASEAN connectivity in the fields of transport, trade and cross-border movement, he noted, is critical for closer, more efficient relations and to spread prosperity and close development gaps within and among countries.
Mr. Ban said he was pleased that the UN regional commission known as ESCAP has helped ASEAN develop its Regional Connectivity Master Plan. “UN collaboration will continue as you work towards establishing the ASEAN Community in 2015. We also stand ready to support efforts to improve energy security and the improved management of shared resources such as water.”
On sustainable development, the Secretary-General lauded the “impressive progress” ASEAN countries have made towards most of the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), whose deadline is 2015.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefs the press following his address to the ASEAN-UN Summit. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks with the President of Uganda. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (fifth from left) with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speakers with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (left) and US Secretary of State John Kerry. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras < >
“We will continue to work with you to achieve all the MDGs across the board,” he said. “This is imperative as we work to define a shared vision for the post-2015 period. The United Nations is eager to hear the voices of ASEAN nations and work with you in implementing a bold new sustainable development agenda.
“Poverty eradication must be our priority, and sustainable development our guide and principle.”
Noting that the region is highly vulnerable to weather-related disasters, Mr. Ban pledged continued UN support for disaster management, which he said is one of the most advanced areas of UN-ASEAN collaboration.
“Ultimately, we can only prevent climate disasters by addressing climate change,” he stated, stressing the need to finalize a robust legal agreement on climate change in 2015.
At the same time, the post-2015 development agenda must also be rights-based, with particular emphasis on women, young people and marginalized groups, the Secretary-General said.
“The ASEAN region is one of the most diverse in the world, representing many of the world’s great cultures, faiths and traditions. Peace and sustainable development for all the people of the region depend on harmonious relations among communities and nations.
“We must avoid the divisive effects of rising inequality, which often evolve along ethnic or religious lines. The UN stands ready to work with all of you to promote human rights for stability and development.”
Other areas of collaboration include peacekeeping, as well as the fight against corruption, transnational organised crime, terrorism and other non-traditional security threats, he added.
On broader issues, the Secretary-General applauded the various efforts to resolve tensions and conflicts in the region, noting for example that the border between Cambodia and Thailand has been calm.
In addition, the Thai Government has initiated peace dialogue with one of the southern insurgent groups, facilitated by Malaysia, and the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are now moving towards a comprehensive peace agreement.
Myanmar, Mr. Ban added, has been going through an “unprecedented” reform process. However, he remained concerned about ongoing communal violence, and urged the Government and all communities to address all contributing factors. “The reform process in Myanmar can only succeed fully if all groups in the country feel safe and part of the whole, secure in the realization of their human rights.”
On the margins of the summit, Mr. Ban met separately with several leaders, including those from Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia, discussing issues such as Syria, sustainable development and peacekeeping.
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Statement as Delivered by Ms. Noeleen Heyzer,
United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Executive Secretary of ESCAP, and Coordinator of the UN Regional Commissions
to the High Level Panel on Post-2015 Development
Monday, 25 March 2013
Distinguished Members of the High Level Panel,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by thanking H.E. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and the people of Indonesia for their hospitality. My appreciation goes as well to the distinguished members of the high-level Panel for the opportunity to share the perspectives of the five United Nations Regional Commissions.
The Regional Commissions, from Latin America, Africa, the Middle-East, Asia and the Pacific and also from Europe, have had extensive consultations with our governments, civil societies, private sectors, academia and parliamentarians. Just in Asia-Pacific, to give you a sense of the meetings that we have had, ESCAP organized sub-regional meetings in partnership, as you heard this morning, with the Asian Development Bank, and UNDP. We also had meetings with the landlocked countries, the least developed countries, the small island states and recently, in Timor-Leste, with the more fragile states. So what are some of the priorities that have come out from these consultations?
Firstly, a repeat of the message that we heard earlier: that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are unfinished business. We need to accelerate the implementation of the MDGs. The consultations addressed new challenges, as well as old ones, calling for a new development model to be based on structural changes for equality, inclusiveness, resilience and sustainable development, as a more integrated whole. The over-arching message emerging from the consultations was that the next phase of development has to be a transformative agenda that is people-centered, cares for our planet, and which generates shared and sustained prosperity.
This is the regional vision of the type of world that we want. The question, across all regions, was how best to get there. The connecting theme was that people from around the world are asking for a new social contract for sustainable development, between the state and its people, and between the state and the market. This social contract has to promote citizens’ engagement, translating growth into productive employment for all. It has to adopt policies for the fairer redistribution of wealth, economic assets and opportunities – where there is better resource management and governance, and better financial governance, including the issues of money laundering and corruption, greater accountability of both the public and the private sectors, and providing quality services to all.
The message that I bring to you also looks at the areas of priority action identified by the various regions, priorities which can only be effectively acted upon through a genuine global partnership, based on trust and not on conditionality, where both the developed and developing countries play their parts. This is why the need for agreement on the means of implementation for the next phase of the global development agenda is extremely important.
Amongst the critical priority areas indentified by the Regional Commissions, through our consultations, were: firstly, that we need to take into account that not all countries and regions are the same – it is not a homogenous agenda. The framework has to take sufficient account of the fact that countries and regions have different initial conditions and resource bases, in terms of human, institutional and natural resources, and that there has to be, therefore, enough flexibility to adapt this agenda at the local, national, and regional levels. For example, many countries in Asia and Latin America are middle income countries, but at the subregional level there are extremely poor communities. Therefore, poverty reduction has to be the top priority in all our regions. In fact, the term that was frequently heard in the consultations was that there are “rich countries with poor people” and sometimes “poor countries with rich natural resources that are badly managed”.
The issue of flexibility must also be extended to strategies for achieving our development goals of inclusiveness, of sustainability and of equality. It cannot, therefore, be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. We also need to look at the development agenda in the context of the post-2008, post-financial crisis world: with ODA financing for middle income countries declining, it will be very important to create fiscal space and make spending and taxation more progressive in all our regions in the post-2015 agenda.
The means of implementation that are needed for these priority areas, must be more universal, to gradually diffuse the North-South paradigm that has dominated our international cooperation discourse. The concentration on accountable partnerships is therefore absolutely critical. Having said that, the intensity of development challenges facing developing countries is deeper still, and we need therefore to have international commitments and shared responsibilities, including those still relating to ODA, access to markets, technologies, and essential drugs. This needs to be politically upheld, notwithstanding the importance of mobilization of domestic and regional resources. In fact many countries, especially the middle income countries, are indeed looking at how they can mobilize greater domestic and regional resources. ODA will not be a basic pillar of the post-2015 development agenda, but it is still an unfulfilled promise that needs to be attended to.
We held several consultations with the landlocked and least developed countries, and here the emphasis was on transit trade and on regional connectivity, not only the hardware of connectivity, but also the software of connectivity. There was also a consultation with fragile and conflict-affected states, in Timor-Leste, and what emerged were four priorities: inclusive economic growth that is pro-poor and pro-jobs; state effectiveness and state building for development effectiveness; citizens’ security and the concern that it is not just war that creates violence, but the fact that many of these societies are being criminalized, and that violence related to criminality was a major concern; and of course the issue of peace and justice based on human rights. There was also a major concern about the establishment of better economic and social protection systems for the whole life-cycle, taking into account the challenges and opportunities of changing demographics, such as the ‘youth bulge’.
Other priorities which emerged were the need to build good governance, better state institutions, better alliances, better citizens’ engagement, and also to fight corruption. The need was also identified for a better regulatory environment for investment and trade, in order to generate jobs. By the same token, governance also has to be improved at the international level, to ensure that the interests of all countries are represented in global decision-making.
In addition, there was a very strong sense that, to fortify genuine global partnerships, there must be a focus on essential global public goods. The means of implementation should address how to mobilize and harness global partnerships for global public goods including: fair trade; stable international financial systems; and the accessibility of technologies for health, for inclusiveness and also for environmental sustainability.
Acting solely on outcomes, as is the case in the MDG framework, without addressing enablers of development and means of implementation, will not yield the structural transformations needed in the post-2015 agenda. The importance of regional public goods to development is most pertinent in this context – especially infrastructural deficits in transport, power generation, and information and communication technologies. The post-2015 agenda must, therefore act on global and regional impediments constraining such potential for development financing.
In conclusion, there was a focus on the need for partnerships for sustainable development to be built, and that means that we need to have a more holistic framework of human development and sustainable development, and that this must be consistent – we cannot see them as trade-offs, they have to be seen as synergies.
What we are looking for is low-carbon growth, that is high on poverty reduction, and high on reducing inequality. In this context we need to address climate change and issues of volatility, ensuring that development gains are not lost due to natural disasters or to manmade disasters such as financial crises and speculative behavior leading to excessive price volatility in essential commodities. We need therefore to strengthen the resilience agenda.
Another key issue that received prominence in the regional consultations was the imperative to achieve gender equality and to end the global scourge of violence against women and girls.
In short, the world that the Regional Commissions want, and are working towards, is a more resilient one, founded on shared prosperity, on social equity, on citizen’s security, and on sustainability. This is the world that we want our children to inherit.
I thank you.