Exports have led Asia and the Pacific out of the global economic crisis, according to a new United Nations report, but it will be difficult to continue the growth without opening new markets within the region, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) reported today.
“Export recovery has led Asia and the Pacific out of the 2009 global economic and financial crisis, allowing the region to emerge as an important stabilizing force and engine of world economic growth,” ESCAP said, citing its Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2011 Post-crisis Trade and Investment Opportunities, released today in Bangkok at the UN-backed Asia-Pacific Business Forum (APBF).
“Trade in the region has returned to pre-crisis levels while foreign direct investment flows to selected parts of the region, in particular East Asia, have also fully recovered,” ESCAP said. “However, it will be challenging for Asian economies to maintain current levels of export growth unless they develop new markets within the region.”
ESCAP estimates show that the export growth recovery in Asia-Pacific developing economies in 2010, estimated at 17.3 per cent, after negative growth of nearly 8 percent a year earlier, will stabilize to 9 percent in 2011.
“Developed economies are still the major destination for the region’s exports, but with the European Union, Japan and the United States facing an economic slowdown, Asia-Pacific countries must rely more on intra-regional trade which can also make the region more resilient to external shocks,” ESCAP said.
“Opportunities for export expansion will depend largely on the growth of intra-regional demand and the ability of various developing countries of the region to restructure and diversify their exports to meet that demand,” said Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary, in presenting the report.
The report also recommends that Asia-Pacific countries take the lead in exports of climate-smart goods and technologies.
“As the region will have to come to terms with the expected effects of climate change, there is a collective imperative to increase regional trade and investment in these goods,” Dr. Heyzer said.
The APBF, along with the Committee on Trade and Investment – an annual regional forum for policymakers and stakeholders – are two key events during the Second Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Week, which starts today and is organized by ESCAP with the theme “Post-Crisis Trade and Investment Opportunities for Asia and the Pacific.”
Some 400 government and business leaders are discussing how Asia-Pacific developing countries can benefit from the current economic environment to boost business investment and trade within the region, and at the same time, ensure that this reduces wide socio-economic development gaps and promotes sustainable and inclusive growth.
“The business community in the region will have to continuously demonstrate innovative and productive approaches to convert post-crisis challenges to opportunities,” Dr. Heyzer told the opening session.
Collaborating partners for the Trade and Investment Week include the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF), the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, the Industry and Banking of Thailand (JSCCIB), the Greater Mekong Subregion Business Forum (GMS-BF), End Human Trafficking Now (EHTN), the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights and the Mekong Institute.