UNCTAD XII To Extend Gains from Globalisation to Developing Countries
The 12th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XII) ended its week-long ministerial meeting last Friday with the adoption of comprehensive conclusions aimed at reinforcing international efforts to extend gains from globalisation to the millions currently being left behind.
The conclusions which addresses pressing economic, trade and development issues as well as set UNCTAD's four-year work programme, highlighted the challenges facing many developing countries as they strive to integrate successfully into the international economic and financial system and set out a detailed agenda for progress in economic and social development spanning areas ranging from commodities, trade and debt to investment and new technologies.
While welcoming the strong economic growth rates that global trade and investment flows have brought many in the developing world, the conclusions cautioned that these advances have not been shared by all and have been accompanied by new difficulties, most notably the current crises in food prices and financial markets, as well as growing income inequalities.
It also called for UNCTAD's role to be strengthened, including work on the trade and development aspects of such key emerging issues as climate change, energy, security and international migration, reflecting concern about the development risks posed by surging food prices and particularly for the world's poorest,
The Conference conclusions titled 'The Accra Accord and Declaration' which were adopted by consensus by UNCTAD's 193 member states, reflecting the views of the organization's developing and developed countries. UNCTAD meets every four years at ministerial level asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to reinforce UNCTAD's commodities work and put it under the direct responsibility of Dr Supachai, the Secretary-General, of UNCTAD
The Accra Accord emphasised the urgency of meeting the needs of least developed countries, many of which are in Africa, the host continent of UNCTAD XII.
'Nearly half of all African countries have not been lifted sufficiently by the recent economic recovery, although they have made efforts to face the challenges of globalisation. Their growth rate did not increase in the period 2000-2006 as compared with 1995-2000, or else it remained below 3 per cent,' the Accord said.
The Accord underscored the importance of diversifying economies away from dependence on one or two commodities, building the capacity to produce a wide range of goods, ensuring access to basic services and strengthening legal and regulatory frameworks and institutions adding that policies should be tailored to the needs of individual countries, while at the same time respecting international law,
It stated that 'there is no one precise model for improved, growth-enhancing governance and institutions.' 'there is no one precise model for improved, growth-enhancing governance and institutions.'
The Conference stressed the immense potential created by growing trade and investment links within the developing world, spurred by the emergence of dynamic developing economies, such as China, India and Brazil calling for such ties to be encouraged and reinforced, particularly through regional integration and the reduction of barriers to such South-South trade.
In addition to negotiations on the final Accra Accord, UNCTAD XII featured a host of lively roundtable debates, cultural events and participants ranging from heads of government to non-governmental organisations and African artists.
Speaking at the end of the Twelfth Ministerial Session of the UNCTAD, the Secretary -General, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, hailed the Accra Accord and its accompanying political declaration for embodying the shared commitment of the developing and developed world 'to work towards making globalisation a powerful means to achieve poverty eradication'
He also vowed to strengthen the organisation's work on commodities, including agriculture, in the face of the crisis provoked by surging prices for basic food items.
He said the organisation had an important role to play in promoting policies that bolster agricultural sectors in developing countries. These include increased aid, investment and technology transfers. It could also highlight market distortions and back policies that lead to higher incomes for small producers.
Among the highlights of the UNCTAD XII were the World Investment Forum, which brought together government, corporate leaders and international experts to consider how to enhance the impact of foreign direct investment on economic development and poverty reduction.
The Conference also included the first UNCTAD Women in Business Award, as part of its effort to emphasize the role played by women in economic development, and the launch of a multi-agency report on the Creative Economy, which offers the potential for developing countries to tap unused creative resources. A Creative Africa initiative showcased the continent's cultural and artistic talents.