SECRETARY-GENERAL, DISCUSSING INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC SITUATION WITH TOP EXPERTS, STRESSES NEED TO KEEP LONG-TERM OBJECTIVES AT CENTRE OF GLOBAL AGENDA

24 October 2008
SG/SM/11882-ECO/134

SECRETARY-GENERAL, DISCUSSING INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC SITUATION WITH TOP EXPERTS, STRESSES NEED TO KEEP LONG-TERM OBJECTIVES AT CENTRE OF GLOBAL AGENDA

24 October 2008
Secretary-General
SG/SM/11882 ECO/134
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

SECRETARY-GENERAL, DISCUSSING INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC SITUATION WITH TOP EXPERTS,

STRESSES NEED TO KEEP LONG-TERM OBJECTIVES AT CENTRE OF GLOBAL AGENDA

The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The Secretary-General yesterday invited a group of five eminent economists to share their views and brainstorm on the international economic situation and, in particular, on the special challenges facing the developing countries in the context of the worldwide financial crisis and its likely consequences.  The economists were Nancy Birdsall of the Center for Global Development, Dani Rodrik and Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University, and Jeffrey Sachs and Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University.

The meeting took place one day before the semi-annual gathering of the Chief Executives Board of the United Nations system where the same challenges will be discussed this morning.

The brainstorming session focused on the overall economic scenarios for 2009 and possible policy responses to limit the depth and length of the expected economic slowdown.  The discussion also focused on the developing countries, both middle-income emerging markets, as well as least developed countries.

The Secretary-General stressed the need to keep the long-term objectives -- such as the Millennium Development Goals and the fight against extreme poverty as well as the need for action against climate change -- at the centre of the global agenda.  He underlined the fact that he was pledged to advance the voice of the poor, voiceless and excluded.  He could do this by demonstrating the United Nations responsibility for leading an “inclusive multilateralism” that would need to be reflected in any discussion of the reform of the international monetary and financial system.

It was generally agreed that the era of self-regulation was over.  Multilateral financial institutions cannot function as they are doing currently.  In designing a reform regime, however, a comprehensive approach was needed.

If past history is a guide, a prolongation of an economic slowdown can be averted only if States resisted pressures to adopt trade protectionist measures while pursuing appropriate macroeconomic policies.  On their part, developing countries would need stronger support from international financial institutions to address spillover effects of the crisis.

For the least developed countries, concessional development resources remain critical for the achievement of their development goals.  The participants expressed strong hope that the firm commitments that have been made at various international summits, including the most recent Millennium Development Goal summits at the United Nations, would be fully honoured.  In the context of global resource mobilization and fiscal expenditures, official development assistance remains a very modest and affordable effort.  It would be unacceptable that the least developed countries and the most vulnerable populations were asked to pay for the consequences of a crisis the making of which was entirely outside of their control.

The spillover effects of the de-leveraging process taking place in the rich economies could become an obstacle in financial markets for emerging market economies.  In many of these countries, despite strong macroeconomic policies and good reserve positions, the financing needs of their private sector could pose major challenges affecting their stability.  A proactive and coordinated stance at the global level on this issue was deemed to be desirable.

The participants also discussed the upcoming meetings, such as the G-20 gathering in mid-November and the Doha meeting on Financing for Development.  In that context, the discussion focused on the need to allow for broad participation and, in particular, the necessity of including the voice of the smaller and poorer countries in the debate over the international institutional architecture and the reforms that will be considered.

The Secretary-General shared his determination to continue to work on the development agenda with the heads of other international organizations and world leaders, within the framework of the United Nations system.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.