Senior representatives from over 30 Asia-Pacific countries ended a three day United Nations economic committee here today, calling for a rethink of economic growth strategies and policies in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The third session of the Committee on Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Development, convened biannually by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), was opened by Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada, Vice-Chairman of National Planning Commission of Nepal, Dr Azeema Adam, Central Bank Governor of Maldives and Mr. Shamyrat Mustafayev, Deputy Minister of Economy and Development of Turkmenistan.
The Committee reflected on the economic growth strategies of the Asia-Pacific region, with a focus on enhancing productivity in the context of implementing and supporting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It also generated broad consensus among member States on the importance of strengthening regional financial cooperation and supporting least developed and landlocked developing countries (LDCs and LLDCs) and small island states (SIDS). In particular, the Committee expressed its intentions to further explore the possibility of establishing an Asia-Pacific forum for cooperation in tax matters to support sustainable development.
The Committee stressed that adequate, stable and long-term finance should be mobilized and realigned to achieve the objectives of the 2030 Agenda. Policy priorities recommended by the Committee include strengthening domestic revenues, particularly through improvements in tax policy and administration, and the development of domestic capital markets and institutional investors. The Committee concluded that as today’s financial systems are increasingly interlinked across countries, enhanced cooperation in these areas will be indispensable.
Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada, Vice-Chairman of National Planning Commission of Nepal, said: “In the context of external trade headwinds, the Asia-Pacific economies will have to look more towards domestic and regional demand as their future drivers of economic growth, while keeping in view the global economic down side risks.” Dr. Khatiwada highlighted the unique economic challenges of landlocked countries in the region and pointed out that “if landlocked countries cannot freely enjoy their transit rights and if cross border and international trade flows are obstructed for one reason or the other, landlocked countries are likely to further slip into poverty.”
Dr. Azeema Adam, Central Bank Governor of Maldives emphasized that the most important strategy for the Maldives to propel growth is to invest in infrastructure. “Physical infrastructure is the great enabler that allows economic growth to be inclusive,” said Dr. Adam. “Small island developing states, such as the Maldives, need more and efficient airports, sea-ports, roads, and bridges, to connect and to enable the government to target communities in remote islands. Most importantly, such infrastructure is a precondition for foreign investment that is essential for economic growth. The success and effectiveness of these strategies ultimately depends on our ability to generate affordable financing.”
Mr. Shamyrat Mustafayev, Deputy Minister of Economy and Development of Turkmenistan, underlined the importance of targeted policy measures in supporting SMEs, creating favourable investment climate and promoting public-private partnerships. “These measures will lead to improved living standard and enhanced economic performance,” said Mr. Mustafayev. “Given that today’s world is undergoing a technology revolution, the implementation of ICTs in all spheres of life, coupled with improved transport infrastructure, will set a basis for the transition to the information society.”
During the Committee, ESCAP organized two high-level side events on LDCs and the 2030 Agenda, and Strategic Regional Partnerships for Sustainable Development, where senior representatives from Bangladesh, Switzerland, Maldives, Indonesia, Bhutan, Samoa, Sri Lanka, and experts from the Asian Development Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization and civil society organizations shared their valuable perspectives.
An exhibition was also held by ESCAP alongside the Committee at the United Nations Conference Centre, showcasing the national implementation strategies and progress towards poverty reduction by Bhutan, Fiji, Maldives, the Philippines and Samoa.