Trade, Investment and Innovation


Trade, Investment and Innovation are powerful engines for growth and sustainable development. The expansion of trade across the Asia-Pacific in recent years has been a key driver of economic dynamism and rising prosperity. Trade and investment, for example through participation in global networks of production, have created employment, raised incomes and helped spread knowledge and technology throughout the region. But not all individuals and communities have been able to benefit from the growth that comes from engagement in international markets, and too many barriers to inclusion remain.

ESCAP's objective is to promote trade, investment and technology and innovation for inclusive and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. We work with Member States to ensure that the benefits of trade, investment, technology and innovation are extended to all.

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Investment Promotion and Facilitation

Foreign direct investment (FDI) has emerged as a principal source of financing for development and can create employment and spread technologies and ideas. Growing FDI flows in Asia and the Pacific have helped boost regional integration and growth. ESCAP assists countries in attracting and facilitating FDI for sustainable and inclusive growth.

Science, Technology and Innovation

Innovation, a radically different and disruptive approach, along with significant scientific breakthroughs and technological advancements, are needed to meet the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Asia and the Pacific is home to some of the most dynamic, pioneering and innovative countries in the world but also to some of the most technologically deprived. The challenge is to develop concrete and sustainable innovation and technology collaboration opportunities to help bridge this gap, and to enable countries at all levels of development to take advantage of available technologies and develop a robust culture of innovation. ESCAP's role is to share knowledge across the region on what works, and to keep the region up to speed with the challenges and opportunities that this fast-moving and ever-changing agenda presents.

Sustainable Business Development

Business has played a central role in driving economic growth and innovation, while creating employment and generating income through skills development and productivity improvement. ESCAP provides technical assistance to help governments formulate policies for a conducive business environment, encourage governments, companies and entrepreneurs to support the adoption of sustainable business practices, and facilitate public and private sector dialogue including through the ESCAP Business Advisory Council (EBAC) and ESCAP Sustainable Business Network (ESBN).

Trade and Investment Agreements

Trade and investment agreements lower barriers to and boost trade and investment among the partners. Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the number of bilateral, regional and international trade and investment agreements. ESCAP helps countries negotiate agreements that promote inclusive growth and development. ESCAP is also the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) secretariat.

Trade and Investment Research

ESCAP research on trade and investment helps policymakers make important decisions. Our regular annual reports, as well as frequent working papers, provide crucial insights into emerging issues and the latest trends. ESCAP also helps develop the research capacity in Member States themselves on which effective decision-making depends, including through the Asia Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade (ARTNeT).

Trade Facilitation

Cumbersome trade procedures discourage economic activity and make it difficult for firms and countries to participate in regional and global production networks. ESCAP assists countries, particularly least developed and landlocked developing countries (LDCs and LLDCs), with trade facilitation measures that help simplify processes and regulations. The United Nations Network of Experts for Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific (UNNExT) is the main platform through which ESCAP delivers its activities.

Trade Policy

Decision makers need to determine many crucial elements of trade policy including: improving market access; negotiating trade agreement with positive developmental impacts; and coordinating measures complementary to trade policy. ESCAP's advice, technical assistance and capacity building supports effective and inclusive policy-making. ESCAP is currently coordinating a project towards enhancing the contribution of Preferential Trade Agreements to inclusive and equitable trade.