Facilitating Agricultural Trade in Asia and the Pacific

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The Asia-Pacific region is both a major consumer and producer of agricultural products. Its growth in both imports and exports is accelerating, but not to the potential. There is significant opportunity in this region to expand agro-trade especially due to population growth, dietary change of consumers and trade of high-value products. This publication examines a number of constraints that act as barriers to realizing the trade potential of the Asia-Pacific region: cumbersome trade procedures, inadequate compliance to product standards, poor trade logistics and lack of financing for agricultural trade. Some Asia-Pacific countries have adopted effective measures to deal with the problems presented. Still, many countries in this region lag behind in facilitating agricultural trade and will need to adopt similar measures.



Overview of the agricultural trade in Asia and the Pacific Region

Over 900 million people in the Asia-Pacific region live on less than $1.25 a day (ESCAP 2010), making the region home to more than two-thirds of the world’s poor. Most of the region’s poor, for whom agriculture is the primary source of livelihood (FAO 2009), live in rural areas (ADB). Agriculture accounts for a quarter of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Asia-Pacific’s developing countries and employs about 60% of the region’s working population (ESCAP 2008). ESCAP research (2008) shows that improving agricultural productivity could pull 218 million people out of poverty in this region. It can bring investment opportunities for the private sector, and be a driver for boosting agriculturerelated industries. The World Bank (2007) estimates that GDP growth originating in agriculture is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as GDP growth originating outside agriculture. These figures indisputably show the importance of agriculture in reducing poverty.


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