As one of the leading destinations and sources of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) globally since 2020, the Asia-Pacific region has the potential to use this financing to further scale up sustainable development activities and ensure that the benefits of rapid growth reach everyone equally.
Given estimates that additional investments of at least $1.5 trillion are needed each year by developing countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, mobilizing FDI effectively and urgently will require investors to shift their practices to investing for social and environmental impact beyond profit.
“Governments in the region are starting to take supportive action on this front,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), at the opening of the inaugural Committee on Trade, Investment, Enterprise and Business Innovation. “These are early days, however, and there is certainly much room to foster an environment that incentivizes businesses and investors to focus more on people and the planet.”
Trade frictions, inflationary pressures, geopolitical tensions and worsening climate change are complicating the region’s rebuilding efforts and impacting lives and livelihoods. However, top policymakers and corporate leaders at the Committee urged countries and businesses to not lose sight of the opportunities available for more inclusive and sustainable development.
For example, digital transformation and technological innovations are opening new possibilities, facilitating access to new markets, lowering the costs of cross-border transactions and easing participation in global and regional value chains, on top of reducing carbon emissions from trade and business. Within countries, the emergence of innovative business models such as social enterprises and inclusive businesses are also tackling social and environmental challenges, reaching those most often left behind.
Over the next three days, delegates at the Committee will also delve into ways to enhance regional integration and trade competitiveness, promote climate-smart trade, leverage the digital economy as well as mobilize investments, business innovation and public-private partnerships towards more sustainable and inclusive development.
On the sidelines of the Committee, ESCAP will launch its Policy Guidebook on Promoting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Digital Economy. The report encourages countries to rethink traditional approaches to FDI and identifies three areas in which it can support digital transformation: building digital infrastructure; supporting the digital transformation of traditional firms, in particular, MSMEs and value-chain linked firms; and supporting the development of local digital businesses.
Key dignitaries speaking at the Committee include Tipu Munshi, Minister of Commerce of Bangladesh; Chhem Kieth Rethy, Minister Delegate attached to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State of the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology & Innovation of Cambodia; Teten Masduki, Minister of Cooperatives and SMEs of Indonesia; Gantumur Tuvdendorj, Vice Minister of Economy and Development of Mongolia; and Deepak Bagla, Chief Executive Officer of Invest India.
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