Fifty-eighth General Assembly
Informal Interactive Dialogue
SPEAKERS IN INFORMAL DIALOGUE CALL FOR INCREASED FINANCIAL FLOWS, DEBT RELIEF,
BETTER TRADING SYSTEM TO AID DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
While acknowledging some progress in implementing the Monterrey Consensus, participants in an interactive discussion, organized as part of the General Assembly’s High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development, called for increased financial flows, debt relief and wider trade for developing countries.
The High-Level Dialogue brought together Member States, international organizations, civil society and the private sector in a two-day follow-up to the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development, held in Monterrey, Mexico, and its outcome, the Monterrey Consensus.
Opening the discussion, General Assembly President and Chairman of today’s session Julian R. Hunte (Saint Lucia) pointed to mixed progress in implementing the Monterrey Consensus. Official development assistance (ODA) had increased by 4.8 per cent, and many developing countries and countries with economies in transition were strengthening economic governance and democratic institutions. However, developing countries were still suffering from decreased private financial flows, debt burdens, limited market access, agricultural subsidies, and a lack of participation in international financial institutions.
Echoing that theme, several national representatives called for increased aid, debt relief and wider market access for goods from developing countries. France’s representative stressed that ODA, private financing and debt relief were particularly vital for sub-Saharan Africa, which had the highest number of least developed countries. Noting that 80 per cent of the poor lived in middle-income countries, Spain’s representative urged the international community to extend the same budgetary assistance to those nations as it did to low-income countries.
A representative of the International Fund for Agriculture and Development (IFAD) said private capital could play a larger role in such areas as infrastructure, services and agro-processing in developing countries. He also noted that remittances -- the third largest form of foreign exchange -- had tremendous potential in development, but had hardly been mentioned in the financing for development process.
Representing the International Labour Organization, another speaker supported upgrading the ad hoc group of tax experts to a permanent intergovernmental body to foster international tax cooperation, as well as increased debt cancellation and new sources of revenue. Echoing other participants, he also supported creating an international financial facility, and emphasized special drawing rights benefits for developing countries.
A Ugandan business sector representative noted the vital role that ODA and foreign direct investment played in bringing in capital, technology, and links for local economic growth, but also pointed out that tariffs, non-tariff barriers and poor financing continued to impede trade. The business sector, an important contributor to job creation and economic growth, had been left out of the ODA equation.
Another speaker, representing a Canadian non-governmental organization, stressed developing countries’ need for low-cost, generic HIV/AIDS drugs. He asked why it had taken two years since the Doha World Trade Organization (WTO) Meeting to develop provisions for drug access, noting that many preventable deaths had occurred during that time. Concerned about the WTO’s marginal participation at the High-Level Dialogue, he also called for a stronger relationship between the trade body and the United Nations.
Other speakers stressed the need for increased political will to eradicate poverty, implement the Monterrey Consensus, and get development back on track. Many also called for an all-inclusive multilateral trading system -- vital for nations dependent on export commodities -- and called for renewed WTO talks to reach consensus on international trade.
In addition, many participants noted that, although ODA had increased, it had remained far below the level, stipulated at Monterrey, of 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product in developed countries. Others lamented the low levels of foreign direct investment sent to developing countries, noting that two thirds of it went to the developed world.
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