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19.04.2008 General News

Civil Society Organisations Call For Pro-Poor Policies

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Participants at the UNCTAD XII Civil Society Forum underway in Accra have called for enactment of policies that would enable markets to work for the poor.

There must also be regulatory mechanisms to deal with the activities of Trans-National Corporations (TNCs).

They held that although the attainment of independence by African countries shifted the political dynamics, it did not change the unbalanced trade and investment relations with Europe and the rest of the world.

Africa, they argued, had remained a major producer and supplier of primary commodities under terms which were detrimental to the development of the national economies. The participants were speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the challenges and opportunities of globalisation for development in Accra.

Mr Kingsley Ofei-Nkansah, General Secretary, Ghana Agricultural Workers Union, said the unbridled trade liberalisation had destroyed livelihoods and rendered farmers poorer.

He said the conditionalities imposed on developing countries through the Bretton Woods institutions had led to removal of all forms of support to farmers like subsidised agricultural inputs.

Dr Yao Graham, Coordinator of Third World Network, said developing countries continued to be marginalised in their efforts at sustainable development because of globalisation.

He said the current financial turmoil and an economic slowdown in industrialised countries were the defining moments to examine whether developing countries could survive the turmoil and become less vulnerable to downturns in North America and Western Europe.

Ms Anna Antwi, Food Rights Advisor, Action Aid Ghana, said by following the dictates of the world institutions, governments in developing countries were unable to develop policies to protect local producers and employment to reduce poverty. She said the free trade deals that the EU was seeking with Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries would enforce lowering of tariffs and undermine locally produced foods.

The civil society forum would finalise the civil society statement to be delivered at the opening plenary of the main conference.

The deliberations in the Civil Society Organisations forum is around issues from the four sub-themes of the conference - Free Trade Agreements, Investment Agreements, Commodity Markets and Prices, Cultural Rights, Conflicts and Wars and Global Governance and Multilateralism.

UNCTAD XII to be held in Accra from April 20-25, has as its principal theme: 'Addressing the Opportunities and Challenges of Globalisation for Development.' Some 4,000 representatives of UNCTAD's 193 member States, including several Heads of State and participants from other international bodies, non-governmental organisations, business and academia are expected to attend.

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