Tackling Development Challenges through Structural Transformation and Trade
Structural economic transformation and the expansion of international trade are among the most pressing issues to be addressed, if Asia’s landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) are to overcome the development challenges related to their geographical locations.
Providing essential public infrastructure and services to support sustainable development is not a task for central governments alone. The responsibility of delivering essential public services and infrastructure also falls upon the shoulders of local governments. Local governments can account for up to half of the total public expenditure nationwide in many developing countries. In large developing countries, like China, local governments’ share in public expenditure can be as high as 85 per cent.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has set an ambitious agenda of 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 169 global targets and 232 global indicators. But wait, there is more. The indicators are to be disaggregated not by one or two but at least eight different characteristics: income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability and geographic location, or “other”. And all “in accordance with the UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics” which recognize appropriate and reliable data needs to adhere to certain professional and scientific standards.
Infrastructure development is undoubtedly critical for a country’s long-term economic growth and competitiveness as it impacts economic activities by increasing productivity, facilitating trade, and promoting innovation. Across the Asia Pacific region, however, economic growth as well as broader development goals are hindered by a shortage of roads, mass rapid transit systems, telecommunications, power plants, water and sanitation and other basic infrastructure.
The Asia-Pacific region has exhibited relatively strong economic growth over the last decade, while the world was reeling from the global financial crisis. Yet, ESCAP’s 2017 Progress Report on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) revealed that the region met only 1 out of the 17 goals.
Our dislike of inequality is innate. A child may have been perfectly happy with her breakfast until she sees her brother being served a more desirable kind of cereal. Desire is unlocked when new opportunities become available, while feelings of injustice may arise when they are not distributed equally. As overwhelming as the choices of cereal may be, are the same choices available to everyone?
The world has already warmed by around 1°C relative to pre-industrial baselines. According to the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released last month, an additional 0.5°C of warming will increase the risks of weather and climate extremes in many places.
As the trade war between the United States and China has escalated, businesses operating in both countries are experiencing parallel pressure to rethink and adjust supply chains to remain competitive. Currently, Chinese imports to the USA worth $250 billion are facing levies that will extend to 25% by early 2019, while $110 billion of American goods are already facing duties between 5 to 10% in China.
The Asia-Pacific region, hosting two-thirds of the world’s growing population, is the powerhouse of global economic growth and industrialization. Coupled with pro-poor development policies, the region achieved unparalleled reduction in extreme poverty over the past few decades. Despite remarkable progress in health and livelihoods for millions of the most disadvantaged in the region, patterns of production and consumption have incurred devastating costs on the environment and ecosystems.
Ten years on, and the global economy is still reeling from the impact of the global financial crisis, the first crisis to originate in the United States of America. The Asia-Pacific region endured this historic event relatively unscathed, thanks to the improved macroeconomic policymaking following the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.