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India an important aspect in growth, stability, and development of Asia Pacific region

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Washington: India’s Ambassador to the US Arun Singh said on Tuesday that India is “a politico-economic opportunity” for the Asia Pacific, which could play a significant role in growth, development and stability of the region.

India’s participation in the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum could also help consolidate India’s quest to speed up growth and to integrate closer with its neighbouring Asia-Pacific economies, he said here on Tuesday.

“India represents a politico-economic opportunity for APEC,” Singh said, during a discussion at the Indian embassy, on “India and the APEC Opportunity” over a new report brought out by the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI).

The envoy noted that India was a G20 country and member of the East Asia Summit and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), “whose economic and political weight is bound to increase in the coming years”.

“We believe that India could play an important role within APEC for growth, development and stability of the region,” he said.

“In turn, membership of APEC would help India in integrating further with economies of the region, resulting in a win-win situation for all,” Singh said.

“It can also help India become familiar and more involved with the sweeping changes taking place in the region towards reducing transaction costs, improving connectivity and supply chain linkages, strengthening human capital development, and building sustainable and inclusive communities,” he said.

“Today Asia is witnessing a consolidation of competing mega-regional trade agreements,” Singh said, citing the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, the RCEP, and APEC promoted Free Trade Area for the Asia Pacific (FTAAP).

“While India is part of RCEP, it is not involved in TPP or FTAAP. Yet, India has already become a ‘strategic partner’ of several APEC member countries and all, but four, APEC member countries already have or are pursuing trade agreements with India bilaterally or multilaterally, including China.”

“India joining the APEC forum can bring India’s economic integration with the region to a level-matching its strategic partnership with the APEC members and groups like ASEAN,” he said.

In its new report, “India’s Future in Asia: The APEC Opportunity”, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) highlights the significant benefits that would accrue to India, APEC members, and the region as a result of India joining the forum.

It also outlines the obstacles that stand in the way of Indian membership and the potential steps that India and APEC could take to address these impediments. (Arun Kumar, IANS)

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Parts Of Asia-Pacific Region Suffer From Acute Malnutrition And Hunger: UN

The report notes climate-related disasters are rising in the region, having a detrimental impact on agriculture.

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A Papuan child suffering from malnutrition lies in a hospital bed for treatment in Agats, the capital of Asmat district in Indonesia's easternmost Papua province. VOA

Four U.N. specialized agencies warn that many parts of Asia and the Pacific suffer from alarmingly high levels of malnutrition and hunger. This is the first time the Food and Agriculture Organization, the U.N. Children’s Fund, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization have issued a joint report, which calls for urgent action to reverse the situation.

The report finds efforts to reduce malnutrition and hunger have come to a virtual standstill in Asia and the Pacific. Unless greater effort is made to tackle this situation, it warns prospects for economic and social development in the region will be at serious risk.

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Malnourished and displaced Somali children sit in a tent in their camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia. VOA

As of now, the U.N. agencies say many parts of Asia and the Pacific will not reach the U.N. sustainable goal of ending all forms of malnutrition and achieving zero hunger by 2030.

The United Nations reports 821 million people globally suffer from hunger. World Food Program spokesman Herve Verhoosel said 62 percent of that number, or 509 million people, are in the Asia-Pacific region, with children, in particular, bearing the biggest burden.

Verhoosel said 79 million children, or one in every four under age five, suffer from stunting, and 34 million children are wasting. He says 12 million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, which increases their risk of death.

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Faduma Hussein Yagoub, a polio sufferer, came with her family to Dadaab from Somalia. Her husband and two of her five young children died of hunger on the way. Despite the dangers thousands of refugees every week are making the journey, walking for weeks across the desert and braving attacks by armed robbers and wild animals:

The report notes climate-related disasters are rising in the region, having a detrimental impact on agriculture. Loss of crops, it says, results in more hunger, more loss of nutrition and loss of livelihood.

Also Read: Loss of Teeth In Elder People Linked to Malnutrition

According to the report, climate-related losses in Asia between 2005 and 2015 amounted to a staggering $48 billion. Authors of the report say countries in the region must adapt agriculture so it’s more resilient to extreme climate events, and to mitigate the damage from climate change. (VOA)