G20 Antalya Summit – Perspectives from Asia and the Pacific

Honourable Ministers,
Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

Welcome to the High-level Consultation on the G20 Antalya Summit – Perspectives from Asia and the Pacific. This is the sixth annual round of Asia-Pacific consultations on the G20 Summits since 2010, and is a crucial opportunity for our member States – especially those who are not part of the G20 – to engage directly with the Turkish Presidency.

A very warm welcome to the G20 Sherpa for Turkey, Ambassador Ayşe Sinirlioğlu, Deputy Undersecretary for Economic Affairs.

Turkey has long been acknowledged for its strong partnership with the United Nations, and in the context of the G20 for being a unique voice on the development dimensions of growth, driven by its emerging market experience and what it has accomplished.

Based on first-hand knowledge, I can say that the Turkish G20 Presidency is already appreciated for its augmentation and enhancement of the development agenda, under the strong leadership of the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, as well as Ambassador Ayşe and her colleagues. This is in addition to their admirable and effective steering of the G20 growth framework.

I will leave it to Ambassador Ayşe to offer insights into the current thinking and perspectives of the G20 members, and will concentrate my remarks on three areas which are high priorities for the countries of Asia and the Pacific, as well as for the United Nations: countries with special needs; regional consultations on sustainable development; and financing for development.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Countries with Special Needs

The G20’s special focus on low income countries is very much in sync with ESCAP’s work. Turkey will host the Fifth United Nations Least Developed Countries (LDC) Conference on the Istanbul Programme of Action next year, and ESCAP has been coordinating Asia-Pacific work in support of our countries with special needs. This was reflected in a comprehensive new report launched this morning, as well as in the recent intergovernmental dialogues on the LDCs in Siem Riep, on the landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) in Vienna, and on the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa.

The Commission will continue to offer comprehensive and strategic support to all of the 36 economies of our region classified as CSN, and we will work closely with our development partners to ensure effective implementation of the new sustainable development agenda in these countries. We count on the support of the G20 in this high priority work, both in terms of finance and technical expertise.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Asia-Pacific Sustainable Development Consultations

We have just concluded an intensive week of intergovernmental and other stakeholder consultations, with back-to-back meetings of (a) the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD); (b) the Asia-Pacific Civil Society Forum on Sustainable Development; (c) a conference of more than 100 regional business leaders on Aligning Corporate Sustainability with the SDGs; and (d) the first UNEP Forum of Environment Ministers and Authorities of Asia and the Pacific.

Our new ESCAP theme study, Balancing the Three Dimensions of Sustainable Development: From integration to implementation, offers a coherent conceptual framework and guidance on strategies and options for policy responses at the regional level to the challenges of balancing and integrating the economic, social and environmental elements of sustainability. Together with ESCAP’s Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2015, this analytical work offers regional policy options and guidance on both sustainable development and inclusive growth. We would urge the G20 to encourage its members to lead by example in mainstreaming sustainability and inclusivity in their growth agenda.

G20 efforts to implement structural reforms for enhanced competition and innovation already provide useful guidance to our region in enhancing its own growth, especially given the risks now facing the region as it grows below its potential.

It is important for us to reinforce the growth debates by advocating inclusiveness that promotes social justice through more balanced sharing of growth benefits such as decent job generation, empowerment, social services etc. We are joined in these efforts by many of our leading regional businesses, who are working to promote corporate sustainability and inclusiveness.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Financing for Development

The breadth and depth of the new sustainable development agenda calls for scaling-up resources, through domestic resource mobilization, international cooperation, as well as by leveraging better private partnerships.

This agenda is being pursued by the G20, but our region calls for it to be more delivery-oriented. The countries of Asia and the Pacific are united on need for greater levels of domestic resource mobilization. In this context, there is significant Asia-Pacific tax potential of anywhere between 5-16 per cent of GDP, which if tapped could generate almost $300 billion in the region.

G20 leadership on international tax cooperation has been widely appreciated, but needs to followed by practical actions and vigilance to rein in multinationals from tax base erosion and profit shifting, which is hurting developing countries. We look to Asia’s G20 members to partner with ESCAP in our efforts to establish an Asia-Pacific Tax Forum, to offer the needed capacity building in domestic resource mobilization, as well as in international tax coordination.

ESCAP’s intergovernmental work on regional agreements, legal and regulatory harmonization, and sustainability are critical to develop better regional connectivity, as is our work on trade facilitation. These will be in sync with G20 efforts to revive global trade.

G20 leadership in infrastructure financing is also timely, especially as regards enabling environments and preparatory project processes. This will be reinforced by regional initiatives on new infrastructure financing vehicles, such as the AIIB, Japan’s commitment to enhance infrastructure financing, as well as the New Development Bank.

One area which is crucial for all of us to reflect on, is how we leverage financing for regional infrastructure which has both sovereign and cross-border risks, and often requires credit enhancements as well. The G20 could be instrumental in this context if it were to mandate IFI’s to set aside special funding and risk capital for regional projects.

Given that official development assistance (ODA) has declined to our countries with special needs, greater effort is also required to lock in a higher proportion of ODA for these countries, and better deploy these funds to secure optimal development results.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Conclusion

To conclude, Ambassador we admire your leadership on many development initiatives, but we urge the G20 to enhance its development delivery with concrete action and decisions.

We look forward to hearing from the G20 Turkish Presidency and our own member States on all of these issues.

In my capacity as UN Sherpa I remain deeply committed to the G20 processes and the success of the Antalya Summit, but I could not resist wearing my ESCAP hat here in Bangkok.

I thank you.