Thursday, January 21, 2021

UNESCAP launches TINA3.0

 The United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) today launched the latest update of its Trade Intelligence and Negotiation Adviser (TINA), an online tool designed to assist trade policymakers and researchers in carrying out analytical tasks commonly conducted as part of trade negotiations.

TINA was developed in close consultation with current and former members of trade negotiation teams throughout the Asia-Pacific region, using state of the art methodologies and technologies, according to UNESCAP. “The latest update features a trade agreement text analysis module as well as partial equilibrium impact assessments for tariff liberalisation, least developed country (LDC) status graduation, and tariff preference loss scenarios.”

Many of the intense tasks undertaken for trade liberalisation negotiations require specialised analytical and data management skills and are time-consuming when performed manually. TINA automates many of such tasks, enabling countries with limited resources to benefit from the same level of preparation as those afforded to teams of larger economies.

“As we work together to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, many economies in the region need help in effectively preparing for trade negotiations and assessing the benefits of prospective trade deals,” said UN under-secretary-general and executive secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana at the launch.

“Member states about to graduate from the least developed countries status are in most need of international support measures, as they must negotiate new trade agreements to secure some of the trade preferences they previously received,” Alisjahbana further highlighted.

Since its inception in 2018, TINA has assisted several countries in the region. For example, at the request of the Government of Bangladesh, TINA has been used to help them with the Bangladesh-India trade agreement feasibility study. Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vanuatu have also benefitted from a new key feature of TINA, which evaluates the trade impacts of least developed country status graduation and resulting partial withdrawal of preferences by major trading partners such as the European Union, the United States, China and India. “This feature is significant as it identifies sectors and markets most likely to be impacted, thus drawing policymakers’ attention to accord higher prioritisation to those sectors,” the UNESCAP said.

“One of the most promising features of TINA3.0 is its stated ability to use the partial equilibrium model to identify the most affected sector(s) of an economy when it graduates out of the least developed country status,” secretary at the Ministry of Commerce of Bangladesh Dr Md Jafar Uddin shared, adding that the software promises to help the planners and policy makers understand the overall impact on the graduating economy. “It may be of great use to Bangladesh at this stage.”

While the Covid-19 pandemic has temporarily slowed down some negotiations, trade agreements have continued to grow - in number, scope and complexity. Some 184 trade agreements are currently in force involving at least one Asia-Pacific country, with another hundred either signed or under negotiation as of December 2020.

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