UN trade arm brings experts together to discuss boosting infrastructure

17 March 2010 – Experts are meeting at a gathering of the United Nations agency promoting commerce to fight poverty to find ways to help developing countries improve so-called infrastructure service sectors (ISS), which serve key functions including banking, energy and transportation.

ISS, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), is essential to supporting agriculture, manufacturing and service industries markets in poorer nations and “forms the backbone of national economies.”

Regulation to correct market failures and achieve universal access to essential services, while widely recognized as fundamental, has posed challenges for governments. Ever-changing economic, social, technological and environmental realities require countries to adapt regulations to new conditions, and they need sufficient institutional capacities to guide, negotiate, regulate and monitor ISS, UNCTAD said.

A recent survey carried out of nearly 90 regulatory agencies found that the challenges the face are similar, but that least developed countries (LDCs) face special constraints, being short of appropriate personnel, financial resources and equipment.

Some one dozen academics, government officials and representatives of international organizations are participating in the three-day meeting, which kicked off in Geneva today, to examine what kinds of regulatory and institutional frameworks are best suited for individual countries.

UNCTAD said in an information note that this event comes at a “critical moment, as the full impact of the economic and financial crisis on infrastructure services in developing countries is unfolding and recovery measures and regulatory overhauls are still being implemented.”


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