Easing trade barriers key in Executive Secretary’s mission to India

18 Sep 2019

Executive Secretary Armida Alisjahbana traveled to India on mission from 16 to 18 September to hold key bilateral meetings and participate in the 9th Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum.

The Forum was organized by ESCAP and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce, India and Confederation of Indian Industry. Over 270 participants from more than 30 countries at the biennial Forum shared how digital and sustainable trade facilitation measures and practices can bring prosperity for the region.

In her opening remarks at the Forum, the Executive Secretary said, “Amidst global trade tensions, regional cooperation to cut red tape and automate trade procedures is more important than ever. Making trade easier and faster at lower costs by expanding cross-border trade digitalization and the simplification of international trade procedures, will help all firms in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly small and medium enterprises.”

The Forum also featured the launch of a joint publication with ADB, the Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Report 2019: Bridging Trade Finance Gaps through Technology. Ms. Alisjahbana joined Bambang Susantono, Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development at ADB, in the report’s official release. The new study reviews the impact of trade facilitation initiatives in the region on lowering trade costs and easing trade barriers, and innovative methods to bridge trade financing gaps through technology.

On the sidelines of the Forum, the Executive Secretary signed a Memorandum of Understanding with IBM to collaborate on the application of frontier technologies, including blockchain and AI, to facilitate trade for sustainable development. At the signing, she met with Madhav Ragam, Vice President of Government Sector for Asia-Pacific at IBM to discuss how frontier technologies can be harnessed to make global trade more sustainable and inclusive.

Ms. Alisjahbana also held key bilateral meetings with government representatives. She met with Minister of Commerce and Industry of India H.E. Piyush Goyal to discuss breaking trade barriers and supporting medium and small enterprises in India and the Asia-Pacific region. They held an engaging meeting on the collective efforts needed to facilitate more inclusive participation in global trade and eliminate trade barriers in the region.

With H.E. Harsh Vardhan, India Minister of Science & Technology, Earth Science, Health & Family Welfare, the Executive Secretary explored avenues for strengthening cooperation on technology for sustainable development with the support of ESCAP subregional institution the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Transfer of Technology.

Read the report here: https://www.adb.org/publications/asia-pacific-trade-facilitation-report-...