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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   8 October 2013  

UN and APEC to collaborate with ASEAN on harmonising regional statistics on trade and tourism

JAKARTA – 7 October 2013. Given the importance of trade and tourism in the economy, the United Nations Statistics Division, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat are jointly  organizing the four-day ‘International Seminar on Trade and Tourism Statistics on 7-10 October 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia, with assistance from the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement - Economic Cooperation Work Programme (AANZFTA-ECWP) and APEC-Technical Assistance and Training Facility which is funded by the U.S Agency for International Development. Badan Pusat Statistik–Indonesia is hosting the event.

Since the liberalization of trade, the services sector has begun to comprise a sizable component of Gross Domestic Product in most developing countries. To date, the sector has continued to contribute the largest share in business activity, employment, and economic growth. In particular, travel services in the tourism sector have become an economic engine and tool for development and change in the Asian economies.

The sector has grown as such that adequate measurement of Statistics of International Trade in Services (SITS) has become a major concern. More detailed, more comparable and more comprehensive SITS are needed to measure the impact of trade in services on the economy and to provide useful information to facilitate international negotiations and to design policy tools. The internationally agreed framework addressing these data requirements is outlined in the Manual on Statistics of International Trade in Service 2010 (MSITS 2010).

The seminar will refer to MSITS 2010 on selected service categories such as transportation, other business, computer, and manufacturing, with emphasis on travel and tourism statistics. It will also include discussions on policy-relevant Foreign Affiliates of Trade Statistics, modes of supply, guidelines for statistical business registers, and measurement of Global Value Chains.  As these statistics are not collected and compiled by a single national agency but through collaborative effort of the national statistical office, the central bank and other line ministries, notably the ministries of foreign trade and tourism, strong cooperation at the national level is crucial.

Moreover, organizational and regional cooperation will create coordinated methods to better measure the impact and benefits of trade in services to the individual economy and the region as a whole. Quality statistics allow more informed decision making and the formulation of sound policies aimed to boost business activity, employment and economic growth.

This seminar is also seen as a constructive building block of the Asian-Pacific implementation plan for economic statistics within the framework of the System of National Accounts. The integrated economic statistics are first of all important for national planning and policy, but are also relevant in the effort to harmonize regional and international economic statistics to advance the works of ASEAN, APEC and other such organizational efforts in the pursuit of regional economic growth and prosperity.

This seminar is a follow-up activity to statistical capacity building initiatives undertaken by the AANZFTA-ECWP and APEC.

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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