Fifty-eighth General Assembly
Ministerial Round Table 8
BROAD, SUSTAINED ECONOMIC GROWTH KEY TO POVERTY REDUCTION, ACHIEVEMENT
OF GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS, HIGH-LEVEL ROUND TABLE TOLD
Seventeen months after the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development, governments, intergovernmental organizations, the private sector and civil society gathered this afternoon to take stock of progress in implementing the Monterrey Consensus, and its links to sustainable development, sustained economic growth and poverty eradication –- all stepping stones to an equitable global economic system.
Several speakers in the round table, organized as part of the two-day High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, noted that despite Monterrey’s noble goals, many developing nations were in fact poorer today than they were in March 2002. The failure of many nations to make good on their commitments had been a major obstacle. For example, the Dominican Republic’s representative said the developing world was grappling with falling prices for major commodity exports, collapsing production systems, and external debt loads that ate up 40 per cent of their budgets, leaving little funds for health and education projects.
The representative of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) added that 20 million people had joined the ranks of the unemployed since 2000, while the number of people living in extreme poverty had fallen back to 1990 levels. The situation would worsen if macroeconomic policies did not change, he warned.
Many speakers stressed the need for increased market access for developing nations’ exports, reduced agricultural subsidies for developed countries’ farmers and increased official development assistance (ODA). Turkey’s Minister of State, Ali Babacan, welcomed the European Union’s proposed agricultural policy changes to break the link between subsidies and production. China’s representative said trade and investment policies should be made more development friendly.
Meanwhile, Côte d’Ivoire’s representative said the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative should be extended to intermediate countries like his, where high external debt, unstable prices of raw materials and the HIV/AIDS pandemic had impeded economic development.
It was stated that, in addition to the required increase in ODA deemed necessary for the achievement of the Millennium Goals, the fulfilment of the poverty eradication and sustainable development targets would depend on other factors, such as aid effectiveness, preparedness to deal with disasters and conflicts, and international tax cooperation.
The representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) said other steps could help make up for the shortfall in resources, such as the United Kingdom’s proposal to create an international financial facility. The proposal to regularly issue special drawing rights to help developing countries build reserve currency would enable them to channel funds otherwise obtained for reserves into much-needed socio-economic investments.
The co-chairs of the discussion, Mark Allen, Director of the Policy Development and Review Department, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Fernando Canales Clariond, Minister of Economy of Mexico, said trade was one of the most important instruments to fostering long-term development. Speakers in the meeting, they noted, had discussed the need for supportive international economic environments, reduced tariff and non-tariff barriers, greater market access, and reviving the Doha process.
Speakers had also shed light on the importance of domestic resource mobilization, domestic savings and the growing role of remittances in financing for development and lifting people out of poverty. It was agreed that a reduction in poverty could not be achieved without broad economic growth based on pro-poor policies. Indeed, the international trading and financial systems required greater coherence, and developing countries must have a greater voice and role in decision-making in the Bretton Woods institutions.
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