Fifty-eighth General Assembly
Ministerial Round Table 7
SERIOUS DOUBTS OVER ACHIEVEMENT OF INTERNATIONALLY AGREED DEVELOPMENT TARGETS,
UNLESS DEVELOPED NATIONS INCREASE EFFORTS, ROUND TABLE TOLD
In striving to reach international agreed development goals, developed countries must fulfill their promises to increase official development assistance (ODA), open up their markets and reduce agricultural subsidies, speakers stressed this afternoon during one of several ministerial round tables organized as part of the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development.
The discussion was on “the link between the progress in the implementation of the agreements and commitments reached at the International Conference on Financing for Development and the promotion of sustainable development, sustained economic growth and the eradication of poverty with a view to achieving an equitable global economic system”. The discussion was co-chaired by Donald Kaberuka, Minister of Finance and planning of Rwanda, and Rubens Ricupero, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Mr. Ricupero said the failure to agree on vital trade issues at the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Cancun was a clear sign that pledges made in Monterrey and Doha were in serious jeopardy. The international community was now suffering from a dearth of trade initiatives, especially from the world’s major trading partners –- the United States and the European Union. The WTO must resume negotiations, and identify concrete problems and suggestions to deliver on Doha promises to open up markets and reduce subsidies.
Cambodia’s Foreign Minister, Hor Namhong, questioned whether Monterrey commitments for increased ODA would be realized, noting that developing countries still suffered from limited markets, losing about $24 million per year from agricultural subsidies in developed nations. India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Yashwant Sinha, echoed many speakers in stressing the need for increased aid, trade benefits and debt relief, which would allow developing nations to increase spending on social programmes and much needed infrastructure.
The Director of the Third World Network, a Malaysian non-governmental organization, noted that the Uruguay trade round had failed to deliver agricultural benefits or market access, and had eventually led to reduced tariffs. The further reduction of tariffs at Cancun would have unbalanced the world’s trading system, and wiped out the livelihoods of thousands of small farmers.
Similarly, the Director of another non-governmental organization, Guyana’s Red Thread Women’s Development Collective, stressed the importance of commodities for survival in Caribbean nations. Rather than increased ODA, such developing countries simply wanted adequate prices for their commodities, and a chance to exist with quiet dignity.
The Director of the Financial Services Volunteer Corps expressed disappointment at the failure of the international community to fulfill the goals reached at Monterrey to improve the global financial infrastructure. The Millennium Challenge Account still had no funds, and there had been no substantial follow-up dialogues between governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society and the private sector.
Other business participants pointed to the need for infrastructure financing, especially in the field of water and sanitation, which was central to the Millennium Goals. The Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development had emphasized the importance of forming water and sanitation partnerships, but many such projects were facing financial problems, and the number of new ones had steadily decreased. Several speakers also highlighted the growing concern over losses in the private sector, mainly amongst investors and lenders.
Speakers also commented that ODA alone could not meet the burden of economic development. Developed countries, they emphasized, must also assist developing nations with capacity-building, and increase foreign direct investment (FDI), while developing countries must mobilize resources, enhance governance and fight corruption.
Many stressed the need for technology transfer, direct investment to productive areas, double taxation treaties, and investment-friendly environments. Several highlighted the importance of carrying on with WTO trade negotiations in Geneva in December, with strong leadership from such developed trading partners as the United States and the European Union in addressing developing countries’ trade issues.
Summing up the discussion, Mr. Ricupero noted the enormous reductions in financial flows to developing countries over the past few years, which reflected the global economic slowdown, as well as the lack of coordination in macroeconomic policies among the world’s leading economies. Stressing that Monterrey was not an end point, but a point of departure, he said what had been started there must be considered an ongoing process, and efforts redoubled to reach its goals.
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