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28.04.2008 General News

UNCTAD XII Pledges To Resist Protectionism

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The Secretary-General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, has disclosed that Member States at the just ended UNCTAD XII pledged to resist protectionism, particularly against goods and services from developing countries, as they tackled the rush of uncertainty plaguing the global economy, including spiralling commodity prices and the slowdown in the industrialised economies.

Speaking at a press conference last Friday in Accra, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi said Member States had built 'development solidarity between the East, the West, the North and the South to improve the quality of life of all human beings'.

The Secretary-General said the inclusion of the World Investment Forum had added a first-time multi-stakeholder forum, providing a 'meeting of the minds' of academics, business people and policymaker, to better direct investment flows towards long-term development.

According to him, the Meeting, through its Nine Round Tables, General Debate and other events, had sharpened the focus on the least developed countries, particularly those in Africa.

He pointed out that in the declaration adopted by the Member States, delegates stressed the importance of integrated solutions to the challenges of mobilisation of additional development finance for commerce-related infrastructure, increased market access for developing countries and technical co-operation to help diversify their economies.

He pointed out that member states also called for an updated, stability-oriented global financial system with enhanced participation by developing countries.

He said UNCTAD's efforts to make itself more dynamic and responsive over the next four years were just beginning adding that it must be more responsive to national, global and multilateral development issues.

'We need to be more on top of things. It's good to be admired for our academic and analytical work, but we need to be more action-oriented.' Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi.

Citing skyrocketing commodity prices and a possible economic slowdown in major industrialised countries, he said the global economy needed a sense of direction.

According to him , a strengthened UNCTAD could help provide a sense of development solidarity, especially around some of the key issues citied by ministers during the conference, such as deepening interdependence, the fragility of economic growth, chiefly in Africa, which was still too commodity-dependent, lagging efforts to empower women ensuring good governance striking a balance between food and biofuel production as well as integrating climate change policies into development strategies.

Not all those issues were new, he pointed out, stressing that UNCTAD had indeed analysed a few of them before adding that it will examine them in future meetings from different perspectives and in light of new global realities.

'We still have mountains to climb, but at least we have begun the process,' Mr. Supachai said, assuring delegations that the Conference was prepared to consider all their advice and recommendations.

He also observed that the Accord, which builds upon the outcome of UNCTAD XI held in Sao Paolo, Brazil, in 2004, details the complex interrelationships of national, regional, international and institutional machineries that was needed to make trade free, fair and beneficial to the sustained progress of developing countries.

A more level trading field for developing countries through the Doha Round of negotiations under the World Trade Organisation is a major concern of the document, as is adherence to existing rules for an open, equitable, predictable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system that promotes development, the Secretary General said.

He noted that the Accord strongly urges States 'to refrain from promulgating and applying unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations, that impede the full achievement of economic and social development, particularly in developing countries and that affect commercial interests'.

He underscored the fact that the Accra Accord encourages UNCTAD to strengthen its role as the focal point of the United Nations for the integrated treatment of trade and development and interrelated issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development.

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