The Bangkok-based United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) played host today to a brainstorming session that brought together leading regional experts to explore a new agenda for the Asian continent in the 21st century.
The two-day workshop, formally known as "The Emerging Economic Map of Asia: Regional Production Restructuring, Asian Integration and Sustainable Development," is the first of its kind, according to ESCAP. It is taking place in the aftermath of the Asian economic and financial crisis and against the background of diversities and differences in development among and within countries in the region.
The workshop, organized by ESCAP in cooperation with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the Asia Strategy Forum (ASF), focuses on the emerging patterns of international production networks in leading industries and their effect on regional economic cooperation, because this issue is now playing a key role in shaping regional economic restructuring, cooperation and development, with particular relevance for Asia's future.
In a keynote address, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand H.E. Pongpol Adireksarn urged countries of the region to help turn the 21st century into a century for Asia. "A key challenge for Asia to emerge victorious under the pressure of global competition is to develop a region-wide knowledge-based economy by sharing the expertise in information and communications technology," Mr. Pongpol said, adding that the development of transport and communications networks forms an integral part in strengthening cooperation among Asian countries.
In his welcoming statement, ESCAP Executive Secretary Kim Hak-Su said that examining the nature and implications of production networks provided a specific and important point of entry for exploring the future transformation of Asia in the global context, and the challenges of sustainable and equitable economic development and regional cooperation.
The event's programme includes a panel of "Asian Wise Persons," during which senior ministers and high-level private sector representatives will examine key themes and issues relating to the relationship between globalization, regional economic integration and cross-border production networks, and their implications for sustainable development in Asia.