Topic A: Increasing Intra-Regional Trade in South Asia
Even though South Asia has one of the world’s fastest growing economies, intra-regional trade has lagged. South Asian intra-regional trade accounts for less than 2% of South Asia’s GDP compared to 20% of the GDP of ASEAN members. This suggests that there are barriers to intra-regional trade among the countries of South Asia, and they are dampening economic growth. A main factor contributing to this disparity is the burden of non-tariff barriers (NTB), ranging from formal output limitations such as quotas and sanctions to inefficient customs practices and burdensome bureaucracy. These restrictions make it harder for many exporters to breach their neighbors’ markets and cheaply sell their goods, which in turn reduces imports and exports, discourages competitive advantages, and maximizes domestic efficiency. It also limits regional prosperity and increases the cost of goods across the board. To reduce these NTBs, organizations and governments must increase NTB knowledge among officials and businesses, streamline procedural requirements, increase regional diplomatic ties, align trade practices to international standards, and expand regional dialogue.
Topic B: Child Labor in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia and the Pacific are home to more working children than any other region in the world. This is primarily due to the demand for agricultural and domestic labor, and in most countries in the region, these sectors are excluded from age restriction labor laws. According to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), 168 million minors worldwide are forced to engage in child labor, 122 million of whom are located in Southeast Asia. In addition to common child-sustained industries, Asia Pacific is home to many cases of the worst forms of child abuses, which include but are not limited to: child trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, bonded child labor, child domestic work, hazardous work conditions, recruitment of children for armed conflict, and drug trafficking. The World Bank is committed to reducing child labor through poverty reduction, as well as through new initiatives specifically aimed at combating harmful and exploitative forms of child labor. According to the World Bank, reducing poverty through economic development and promoting changes in basic education are key elements of strategies to reduce child labor, but faster-acting measures are also needed to address the issue in the short term. The delegates of the World Bank must work together to build the right system of economic incentives and disincentives to eliminate demand for child labor while recognizing the importance of household decision-making and family structures.