Cut red tape to increase exports in Asia-Pacific, UN-backed conference concludes

22 May 2009 – A reduction of export red tape by Governments in the Asia-Pacific region will lead to an increase in exports from areas hard hit by the global financial crisis, said participants at a United Nations-backed trade conference today.

The 20-22 May meeting in Beijing on small and medium size enterprises, sponsored by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia- Pacific (ESCAP), concluded that bureaucratic procedures are particularly hard for smaller companies.

“They simply do not have the capacity to deal with complex and opaque procedures,” said Ravi Ratnayake, Director of the Trade and Investment Division for ESCAP.

“Recent research at ESCAP finds that a 5 per cent reduction in the cost associated with preparing export documents and moving goods from the factory to the ship may lead to increase in exports of 4 per cent or more,” Mr. Ratnayake said.

“The hidden costs of trade are high – in some cases up to 15 per cent of the value of goods traded,” he said.

John S. Wilson, Lead Economist at the World Bank’s Research Department said that “trade facilitation reform matters a great deal to development,” adding that “World Bank research estimates, for example, gains of over $400 billion in global GDP with increased transparency in trade in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation bloc alone.”

The forum also recommended speeding up the computerization and automation of trade documentation and procedures to slash the time, cost and uncertainties related to moving goods across borders.

Participants at the ESCAP gathering said small- and medium-size firms are typically not well represented in policy making forums.


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