Asia-Pacific must re-think trade-led development, says UN

29 October 2009

Asia-Pacific exports are on the upswing, but the region must use trade to create jobs and alleviate poverty, according to a new United Nations report.

The study, by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said that exports are forecast to surge by 6.3 per cent next year in the region, whose development is due in large part to trade, but that the economic crisis offers opportunities for new approaches for growth.

“We cannot assume business as usual,” said Noeleen Heyzer, ESCAP Executive Secretary. “There is a need to make trade work for the poor by linking trade directly to job creation and poverty reduction rather than promote trade for its own sake.”

The crisis has revealed that the region needs to stimulate domestic demand, which in turn must complement, not substitute, exports as a source of growth, she added.

Although intraregional trade can play a key role in curbing poverty, barriers to trade among Asia-Pacific’s developing national are still high, according to Ravi Ratnayake, Director of ESCAP’s Trade and Investment Division.

“By eliminating all tariffs among each other, the region can reduce the number of people living on less than $1 a day by 43 million,” he said.

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