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Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2016

Recent Trends and Developments

image of Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2016

The Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report (APTIR) is a major annual publication of the Trade, Investment and Innovation Division of United Nations ESCAP. It aims to deepen understanding of trends and developments in trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region; emerging issues in trade, investment and trade facilitation policies, and impacts of these policies on countries' abilities to meet the challenges of achieving inclusive and sustainable development. It offers innovative policy options to meet the challenges of achieving sustainable trade and investment. APTIR 2016 shows that 2015-2016 has been a worrying period for trade and investment n the Asia-Pacific region and worldwide, and there are few signs that the current economic and trade slowdown is simply a temporary phenomenon. Instead, this pattern may be the result of a change in the fundamental structure of world trade, which might lead to a persistent trade stagnation. On the other hand, good progress was made, especially at the regional level, with furthering cross-border paperless trade as one of the approached to deal with the upward pressure on the trade costs. Special feature of this volume is a chapter on digital trade in Asia-Pacific. Accepting the rising importance of e-commerce as a new trade platform, there is opening for the possible changes in the focus of trade and investment policies in order to leverage the potential of e-commerce to support intraregional trade.

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Merchandise trade still in trouble?

While the dollar values traded at the global level as well as by the Asia-Pacific region continued to be higher than in the years preceding the global financial crisis, the growth of trade not only slowed down from a historical perspective and relative to economic growth, but turned negative in 2015. World exports recorded a fall of 13.2% in nominal terms, after a meagre increase of 0.6% in 2014. Exports and imports in 2015 by the Asia-Pacific region, which amounted to $6,601.9 billion and $5,966.2 billion, respectively, reflect a fall on the export side of 9.7% and on the import side of 15% over values in 2014. The global and regional deceleration in trade, predominantly driven by a large fall in the prices of traded merchandise, significantly threatens the economic stability of developing countries in the region.

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