ESCAP Reports Steady Regional Growth, Cautions Possible Volatility
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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ESCAP's Year-end Update to its Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2016 reports steady growth of 5%, based on strong domestic demand.

ESCAP's Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report for 2016 notes a slowdown in trade and investment, and considers the potential of e-commerce to boost intra-regional trade.

ESCAP estimates that implementing cross-border trade in the Asia-Pacific region could reduce export costs from 15-30%.

1 December 2016: The Asia-Pacific region experienced a “steady” growth rate of 5% through 2016, despite an overall slowdown in trade and investment, according to the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in its year-end update to the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific.

The growth is based on strong domestic demand anchored by India and China, ESCAP notes, but Brexit and the incoming US Administration could bring financial volatility in 2017. ESCAP also warns that trade protectionist measures and sentiments are on the rise, and could prove a drag on global trade. The report recommends that countries in the region take measures to improve worker skills and social protection systems, to provide a strong basis for further transformation. The next edition of the Economic and Social Survey report is due out in April 2017, and will focus on the role of effective governance in improving development outcomes.

E-commerce could boost trade within the region, with the rise of electronic trading potentially reducing transaction costs and improving competitiveness.

Another year-end document, ESCAP’s annual Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report for 2016, reports a slowdown in trade and investment, and suggests this could signal a change in the fundamental structure of world trade. However, the authors also consider the potential of e-commerce to boost trade within the region, with the rise of electronic trading potentially reducing transaction costs and improving competitiveness.

ESCAP member States adopted the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific in May 2016, agreeing to cooperate to remove technical and legal barriers to electronic cross-border trade. ESCAP estimates that implementing cross-border trade in the Asia-Pacific region could reduce export costs from 15-30%. The Framework Agreement will be open for signature at UN Headquarters in New York, US, from 1 October 2016 to 30 September 2017.

The Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report includes a series of trade briefs on individual countries, as well as sub-regional briefs on Southeast Asia, East and Northeast Asia, North and Central Asia, the Pacific, South and Southwest Asia, and small Pacific islands. [UN Press Release on Year-end Survey Update] [ESCAP Press Release on Year-end Survey Update] [Economic and Social Survey Year-end Update 2016] [ESCAP Press Release on Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2016] [Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2016 Webpage] [Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2016] [ESCAP Press Release on Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific] [ESCAP FAQ on Framework Agreement]

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