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21.04.2008 Business & Finance

THE HOPE OF UNCTAD 12

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The Ghanaian Times welcomes to Ghana participants of the twelfth UN Conference on Trade and Development, or UNCTAD XII.

Its theme, 'Addressing the opportunities and challenges of globalisation for development' is certainly not a new topic, but the fact that the global community is still debating this theme indicates the complexity of the issues involved.

Cynics like to question the usefulness of such conferences but, in our view, even when no immediate solutions to problems surface, among other benefits such meetings serve the very useful purpose of highlighting stumbling blocks in the way of progress.

It goes without saying that progress in many endeavours is made only when the affected parties dialogue. That is why the end of even the most bitterly fought conflicts or wars comes only through some kind of dialogue, not through brute force alone.

And it is the recognition that there may be different aspects and different ways of solving problems that has led to the emergence in recent times of ‘shadow’ meetings and fringe activities by non-governmental organisations at most of the major global meetings.

In line with the NGO tradition of keeping the main meeting on its toes, contingents of NGOs have converged in Accra to hold their UNCTAD 12 fringe meetings and give their perspectives on the issues.

Last Thursday Action Aid International held a news conference to outline its activities in support of peasant farmers.

Of the many thought-provoking issues Action Aid raised, two no doubt were of particular interest to Ghana and other developing countries.

These were the issues of unfair pricing of commodities and the rising food prices that have been generating protests and in recent weeks making headlines in many countries.

Action Aid observed that while some 70 per cent of the people in developing countries depend on agriculture, only some three per cent of those in the developed world are involved in agriculture.

Yet, the irony is that owing to under-development and global trade factors, strangely most of the millions of people going hungry in the world are from the countries that have more people in agriculture.

We believe that these are some of the issues that prompted President Kufuor to say, when opening UNCTAD 12 yesterday, that the meeting should be seen as an opportunity to assist Africa and the developing countries to overcome under-development and reap the full benefits of globalisation.

Given the importance of the theme and the calibre of participants the meeting has attracted, there is every hope that the discussions will lead to outstanding decisions that will impact positively on Africa and the other developing areas of the world.

The hope is that the conference decisions will be such that they will make the Accra UNCTAD a seminal reference point for generations to come.

To Mr Ban Ki-Moon, making his first visit to Ghana as UN Secretary-General and all the Heads of State, as well as all the UNCTAD 12 guests that Ghana is proudly hosting, the Ghanaian Times says:

We wish you fruitful deliberations and, Akwaaba!

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