Speaker in Second Committee Highlights Imbalances Preventing Greater Share of World Trade for Least Developed Countries
Speaker in Second Committee Highlights Imbalances Preventing Greater Share of World Trade for Least Developed Countries
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
16th & 17th Meetings (AM & PM)
Speaker in Second Committee Highlights Imbalances Preventing Greater Share
Of World Trade for Least Developed Countries
Monetary Easing, ‘Unilateral Economic Measures’
Also among Concerns as Members Discuss Macroeconomic Policy Questions
Although least developing countries were overwhelmingly dependent on trade as an engine of growth and development, they had enjoyed a mere 1.4 per cent share of global trade in 2011, India’s representative told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today, as it concluded its consideration of macroeconomic policy questions.
At that rate, he continued, it would be very challenging for them to achieve the Istanbul Programme of Action target of enhancing their share of global trade. Emphasizing that transforming trade into greater income opportunities through the creation of jobs remained a critical development challenge, he said that was even more critical in the present conditions of jobless growth. Unstable capital flows and volatility in the currency markets had further eroded the export competiveness of developing countries, he said, calling for the removal of barriers that prevented them from participating fully in global trade.
Brazil’s representative, emphasizing the dangerous effects of unilateral monetary easing on developing world economies in the increasingly interdependent world economy, said that such policies provided only limited support for economic recovery while posing considerable challenges to developing countries forced to manage their spill-over effects. Excessively expansionary monetary policies and the ensuing competitive currency devaluations pursued by countries of systemic importance to the world economy had exerted an effect equivalent to across-the-board export subsidies and import tariffs, nullifying or impairing existing World Trade Organization (WTO) market access commitments, he said.
In addition, they further hindered the export capacities of developing countries, as well as their ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, he said. With a recession looming and no prospect of an ambitious and development-oriented outcome to the Doha Round, he warned, Brazil and other members of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) had no option but to resort to tariff increases that remained consistent with their WTO commitments and obligations. Such actions were not to be labelled protectionist, he said, stressing that they were legitimate trade-defence initiatives taken in response to the artificial competitiveness created by currency manipulations.
Malaysia’s representative said that, although his country had recorded growth of 5.4 per cent in the second half of 2012, much of the rebound in the real world economy was due to the strong fiscal stimulus measures applied by Governments in a large number of developed, as well as developing countries, including Malaysia. However, consumption and investment demand remained weak while unemployment and underemployment continued to rise. “History is the best teacher, but we do not seem to want to learn from our past mistakes,” he declared. Pointing out that the current international financial architecture had “failed us, time and time again”, he called for further measures by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to address the historical imbalances behind the developing world’s lack of representation in those institutions so as to reflect the current realities of the global economy.
Many delegations underscored the need for a fair and equitable international trading system in which developing countries would have as much of a voice as developed ones. The Doha Round presented a valuable opportunity to make international trade a vehicle for growth and development, he said, adding that the outcome must be fair, balanced and equitable.
Syria’s representative said unilateral economic measures were manipulative, inhumane and immoral, adding that they had a negative impact on the ability of developing countries to meet important development goals and were in violation of international law. He called on the international community to mobilize all efforts to end the use of unilateral coercive economic measures.
Echoing that sentiment, the representative of Belarus said his country had suffered the adverse effects of unilateral economic actions imposed by the European Union, in contravention of the United Nations Charter and international law. Emphasizing the need for an open, transparent economic system functioning in accordance with the common goals of all nations, he said those were “not just words on paper” for Belarus.
Cuba’s representative, while declaring the unilateral economic measures imposed by the United States on his country as unacceptable, said the international trading regime was at a crossroads as there were no clear signs of progress on questions that were crucial to countries of the global South. Developed countries could no longer get away with imposing their interests on the developing world and thereby hampering their development efforts, he stressed.
Several delegates asked the Committee to address the unique and critical vulnerabilities of middle-income countries, noting that the global financial and economic crisis had triggered greater risks. Looking forward to the post-2015 development agenda, they called for a fair and balanced international financial environment that would enable developing countries to continue pursuing their development agendas.
El Salvador’s representative said that despite efforts for economic recovery, it was likely that the recession would continue into 2015, which would cause developing and even developed countries to lower their economic prospects even further. El Salvador supported reform of global economic structures, including international financial institutions, to ensure that they were better managed, he said.
Other speakers today were representatives of Haiti, Ukraine, Thailand, Ethiopia, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, China, Nigeria, Zambia, United States, Niger, Japan, Iran, Jordan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Venezuela.
Also speaking were the Permanent Observer for the Holy See and the Special Representative to the United Nations and Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The Second Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 29 October, to begin its general discussion on sustainable development.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to continue and conclude its general discussion on macroeconomic policy questions. See Press Release GA/EF/3345 for background information.
CARLOS ENRIQUE GARCIA GONZALEZ (El Salvador), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country attached great importance to interregional participation as a tool to aid recovery from the adverse effects of the global economic and financial crisis. Support for remittances, positive bilateral and multilateral collaboration and increased trade were outcomes of greater regional cooperation. Noting that the crisis had created greater risks and negative prospects for the global economy, he said that despite recovery efforts, the world economy would still be in recession in 2015, which would cause developing and even developed countries to lower their economic prospects even further. He expressed support for processes aimed at reforming global economic structures, including international financial institutions, in order to improve their governance. As for debt, El Salvador was addressing that issue at the national level, but needed the international community to recognize the specific needs of developing countries in that regard. El Salvador encouraged a deepened approach to the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review and the implementation of the “Delivering as One” initiative, he added.
MAURICIO FERNANDO DIAS FAVERO(Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Cairns Group, pointed to decelerating growth in developing countries and contracting international trade flows. Urging reform of the Bretton Woods institutions to ensure their legitimacy and effectiveness, and that they reflected current economic realities, he said it was also essential to increase the role of the United Nations because of its unique universality and legitimacy, which could “bend the arc of history” towards development. Emphasizing the dangerous effects of unilateral monetary easing on developing-world economies in the increasingly interdependent world economy, he said such policies provided only limited support for economic recovery while posing considerable challenges to developing countries forced to manage their spill-over effects.
Excessively expansionary monetary policies and the ensuing competitive currency devaluations pursued by countries of systemic importance to the world economy had had an effect equivalent to across-the-board export subsidies and import tariffs, nullifying or impairing existing World Trade Organization market access commitments, he said. In addition, they further hindered the export capacities of developing countries as well as their ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. With a recession looming and no prospect of an ambitious and development-oriented outcome to the Doha Round, he warned, Brazil and other members of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) had no option but to resort to tariff increases that remained consistent with their World Trade Organization commitments and obligations. Such actions were not to be labelled protectionist, he said, stressing that they were legitimate trade-defence initiatives taken in response to the artificial competitiveness created by currency manipulations. Brazil’s average applied tariff rates remained much lower than mandated by the World Trade Organization, he added.
VADIM PISAREVICH( Belarus) emphasized that the principles underlying the need for an open, transparent economic system functioning in accordance with the common goals of all nations were “not just words on paper” for his country. Belarus had felt the adverse effects of unilateral economic actions imposed by the European Union, in contravention of the United Nations Charter and international law. Calling for a new global economic system, he said it should comprehensively help States gain fair access to the World Trade Organization. The global economic architecture needed democratic reform, he said, adding that it must address current challenges by increasing financing resources without politicizing them. As a middle-income country, Belarus encouraged the international community to acknowledge the particular vulnerabilities of that category, he said. Middle-income countries were open and ready for trade, he declared.
MOHAMMED NAJEEB ABDULLAH, Senator and Member of Parliament from Malaysia, associated himself with the Group of 77, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Cairns Group, saying that although his country had recorded growth of 5.4 per cent in the second half of 2012, the economic recovery was uneven and prospects for sustaining it for a longer period looked fragile. Much of the rebound in the real world economy was due to the strong fiscal stimulus measures applied by Governments in a large number of developed as well as developing countries, including Malaysia. However, consumption and investment demand remained weak while unemployment and underemployment continued to rise. “History is the best teacher, but we do not seem to want to learn from our past mistakes,” he declared.
Pointing out that the current international financial architecture had “failed us, time and time again”, he called for further measures by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to address the historical imbalances behind the developing world’s lack of representation in those institutions in order to reflect the current realities of the global economy. Small and medium-sized countries had a role in setting the global economic agenda alongside advanced economies, he stressed, recalling that in the past two sessions, Malaysia had advocated use of the Islamic financial system among nations. Despite the many challenges of the global financial and economic environment, Islamic finance continued on its trajectory as its rapid growth and internationalization enhanced its role in strengthening international economic linkages between different parts of the world.
ASTRIDE NAZAIRE ( Haiti) associated herself with the Group of 77, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Group of Least Developed Countries. Calling for changes to the multilateral trading system based on clear rules such as most-favoured-nation status, combined with initiatives to increase regional integration and cooperation, she said trade issues should be solved through extensive discussion and negotiation. Revisions of the rules governing the World Trade Organization could not be ruled out, she said, emphasizing that it was essential to prevent the “flagrant transgression” of trade rules, in spite of the severe economic crisis.
It was also important to break the deadlock in the Doha Round of negotiations, she continued. Small, open economies like Haiti’s saw many opportunities in the world’s growing interconnectedness, she said, recalling that her country had pursued the liberalisation of its trade regime since the 1980s. She pointed to an increase in “plurilateralism”, especially visible since the failure of the Doha Round, saying she endorsed such arrangements, but only so far as they complemented multilateralism. There was a need to avoid protectionism and non-tariff measures, she said, warning that if the current international trade situation persisted or worsened, least developed countries would be the worst affected because they were the most vulnerable.
DMYTRO KUSHNERUK(Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, said there had been several useful recent discussions on the role of the United Nations in the international financial system, which should be a central one. Calling for an open, fair, non-discriminating and transparent international trading system, he said further liberalization, including a successful conclusion of the Doha Round, was vital to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Ukraine was a steadfast supporter of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), he said, noting the launch of that agency’s technical project aimed at assessing and strengthening competition legislation in his country. Alongside a projected acceleration in Ukraine’s economic growth in 2013, there would be fiscal tightening and a more flexible exchange-rate policy to improve resilience to external shocks, he said. At the same time, it was important to improve the investment climate and advance the implementation of structural reforms outlined in the Presidential Economic Reform Programme, because Ukraine needed real foreign direct investment (FDI), he added.
MR. AKSORNSAWAD(Thailand), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said his country attached great importance to regional integration to support development, reduce external vulnerabilities, help speed global economic recovery and accelerate sustainable development. In that regard, Thailand and the other member States were working hard to ensure a smooth transition to the ASEAN Community in 2015. Noting that the multiple world crises implied the need for a fundamental re-think of global economic governance, he called for a focus on transparency, crisis-responsiveness and stability in the system, and for a vital increase in the representation and voting rights of developing countries. There was also a need for a comprehensive and fair solution to the external debt problem of developing countries, he said, describing it as a “crucial issue on the post-Monterrey agenda”.
WOINSHET TADESSE ( Ethiopia) associated herself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries. She pointed out that although the value of international trade had increased in 2011 due to high commodity prices, its overall volume had actually declined. High food and energy prices, volatility in currency and commodity markets and high unemployment had eroded the export competitiveness of developing countries, she said. Most of the increase in the total exports of least developed countries, as reported by the World Trade Organization, had come from fuel and mining products, while their share in world trade remained at only 1.12 per cent, she noted. Supply-side constraints as well as tariff and non-tariff trade barriers further constrained their ability to participate. Accelerating the accession of least developed countries to the World Trade Organization was crucial for their integration, she said, adding that Ethiopia was committed to finalizing its own accession process.
JOSEFINA BUNGE (Argentina), associating herself with the Group of 77, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and the Cairns Group, recalled the economic woes that her country faced 10 years ago, saying that the poor economic policies of the preceding 30 years had been responsible. To get out of the crisis, Argentina had implemented a sound macroeconomic framework, she said, underlining the fundamental role of the State in promoting economic inclusive economic development. Expressing deep concern about possible spill-over from the crisis, given the fragile recovery, she said States should follow Argentina’s lead in pursuing a balanced mix of policies in order to rebound from the crisis, rather than focusing only on fiscal-adjustment and monetary policies. Noting that the current priority was containing the crisis in Europe, she said too many efforts and resources had been devoted to that end. Going forward, reform of global economic governance was needed to ensure the legitimacy and effectiveness of the IMF and to strengthen its multilateral and cooperative nature. The Fund’s resources must be adjusted to better reflect the needs of all members, she said, calling also for the implementation of agreements on weighting the influence of developing countries and increasing their voting power.
RABEE JAWHARA ( Syria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said delegates at the Rio+20 Conference had recognized that a multilateral and fair trade system was needed to achieve development goals. There was also a need for bold strategies and policies to translate those theoretical goals into practical results. While the Secretary-General’s reports addressed many development issues, it neglected some aspects, he said, calling for an end to unilateral economic measures imposed in contravention of international law. Such manipulative, inhumane and immoral measures had a negative impact on developing countries, he said, describing them as being in violation of international law, human rights law, and the United Nations Charter. There was a need to overcome all obstacles, including political ones, to ending unilateral coercive measures, he added. He said foreign occupation and settlement-building caused human suffering and impeded access to markets, thereby hampering development efforts and preventing people living in occupied regions from fulfilling their needs.
DEREK O’BRIEN, Member of Parliament from India, associated himself with the Group of 77 and China. He said that transforming trade into greater income opportunities through job creation remained a critical development challenge, more so in the present jobless-growth scenario. Unstable capital flows and volatility in currency markets had further eroded the export competiveness of developing countries. He called for the removal of barriers that prevented developing countries from participating fully in global trade.
He said that due to structural constraints, least developed countries were overwhelmingly dependent on trade as an engine of growth and development, but their share of global trade had been only 1.4 per cent in 2011. At that rate, their prospects under the Istanbul Programme of Action target of enhancing the share of least developed countries in global trade remained challenging. In that regard, he called for early implementation of duty- and quota-free market access for goods and products originating in least developed countries.
Describing the Doha Round as a valuable opportunity to make international trade a vehicle for growth and development, he said its outcome must be fair, balanced and equitable. At the same time, the proliferation of bilateral and regional trade agreements could be made more compatible and coherent with the multilateral system. He called for reform of the global economic and financial governance to address the present systemic weaknesses in the international financial and trading architecture, noting that both the IMF and the World Bank had taken important steps to enhance the voting power of developing countries. Those reforms must be implemented “most urgently”, he added.
Mr. AL-MUBARAK (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said developing countries should be able to access global markets if globalization were truly to be achieved. The United Nations was required to ensure a healthy environment for international cooperation and investment with a view to building balanced terms between developed and developing countries. The Economic and Social Council could help achieve that. It was not impossible to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, he said, stressing that Saudi Arabia had not only done so itself, it had also outlined further goals that would be achieved before that deadline year.
Describing his country as the third largest investor in Africa, he said it ranked eleventh globally on trade facilitation. Saudi Arabia was also the largest open market in the Middle East, providing 25 per cent of all products on the Arab market. The country possessed the world’s largest oil reserves, which put it in an ideal position to contribute to energy and other industrial projects. Underlining his country’s contribution to the international community, he said it had provided more than $100 billion to 94 countries, targeting education, health and infrastructure. Saudi Arabia had also written off more than $6 billion in debt, he added, calling for greater transparency in the international financial and monetary systems and stressing the need for solidarity as well as justice and equity in the interest of reciprocal benefits.
KEVIN WONG (Singapore), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said globalization meant that all Member States were affected by the uncertain global economic conditions, as growing sovereign debt, unemployment and market uncertainty continued to menace the international financial system and global economic recovery. The United Nations system ensured that the interests of all States, regardless of size or wealth, had a voice, he said, citing the Forum of Small States Conference organized by Singapore at the beginning of the present General Assembly session. Participating countries had discussed important economic issues, including the need for international financial institutions to recognize the vulnerability of small States to external shocks, and the need for greater cooperation to strengthen financial governance in order to meet the challenges posed by rapid globalization.
Greater cooperation and integration was needed between the United Nations system and other international groupings in order for deliberations to be translated into effective global actions, he said. There had been increased coordination between the world body and the G-20, among other ad hoc informal economic groups, which had helped to make the work of the latter more inclusive and transparent, he noted. It was important that multilateral standard-setting initiatives, which directly impacted non-members of the G-20, took place within inclusive and transparent formats, including the United Nations. There was also a need for improvement within the United Nations system, especially in the areas of modernization and working methods, to ensure policy coherence across the Organization, he said.
JAIRO RODRÍGUEZ HERNÁNDEZ (Cuba), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the international trade system was at a crossroads since there were no clear signs of progress on questions that were crucial to countries of the global South. Transparency and inclusiveness in negotiations must prevail over attempts by the developed countries to impose their agenda on the world, he stressed, adding that it was essential in those negotiations to ensure the right to development for all, and to allow developing countries to implement measures that best served their own interests. Emphasizing his country’s commitment to an open, just and equitable international trade regime, he said it should be implemented without discrimination against less favoured countries. It was time to end the global dominance of developed countries over trade, which they used as a tool to perpetuate their control of the world, he said. Unilateral economic measures such as those imposed on Cuba by the United States were unacceptable and in clear violation of international law, human rights law and the United Nations Charter.
WANG HONGBO ( China), aligning herself with the Group of 77, called for strengthened macroeconomic policy coordination and cooperation in order to promote trade and investment liberalization. Structural reforms were needed to promote growth and employment, she said, calling also for a balance between pursuing short-term economic growth and medium-term fiscal consolidation. Improvements to the international financial and monetary systems would allow more effective management of financial risks, she said, calling on the IMF to step up its monitoring and analysis of risk factors while strengthening its supervision of developing economies.
She went on to call for reform of international financial institutions and expressed concern that the IMF had failed to complete its 2010 governance and quota reforms on schedule. The Fund should establish a mechanism for the automatic adjustment of quotas for the timely reflection of changes in the economic weight of member countries, she said, adding that the IMF and World Bank should engage in discussions on the post-2015 development agenda. China was working hard to transform its mode of growth into one driven by domestic demand, she said, adding that the country would contribute $43 billion to the IMF’s recapitalisation in addition to making efforts to continue its debt cancellation for developing countries.
ADENIKE M. OSOBA (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that in order for countries to achieve their full potential, a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system must be in place to galvanize and stimulate economic growth and development. The main thrust of Nigeria’s trade policy had always been the integration of its economy into the global market system through progressive liberalization aimed at enhancing competition, effective participation in multilateral trade negotiations and the promotion of technology acquisition and transfer. The Federal Government had had made concerted efforts to diversify non-oil sectors such as the exportation of agricultural crops and the exploration of solid minerals.
He reaffirmed his country’s support for the decision of the African Union to boost intra-African trade through the establishment of a Pan-African continental free trade area by 2023. Encouraging South-South engagements between and among developing countries, he said they were increasingly relevant in the promotion of economies of scale, diversification and resilience. He called for concrete initiatives aimed at bridging financing gaps through increased FDI and donor fulfilment of ODA (official development assistance) obligations. Aid flows should not only be predictable, but also focused and free of unrealistic conditionality, he said. To keep pace with its development agenda, Nigeria had established a debt management plan to ensure good debt-management practices, prudent fundraising to finance Government deficits and a positive impact on overall macroeconomic management.
TERRI ROBL ( United States) said it was essential to address the shift in the global development landscape in a serious manner. Noting that many still viewed development finance through the prism of developed and developing countries, split between donors and emerging economies, she said the latter accounted for 47 per cent of global exports and were the source of more than a quarter of FDI, while South-South development cooperation was estimated to have reached $20 billion in 2010. Nonetheless, many least developed countries had been left behind, she acknowledged. The Monterrey Consensus stated that ODA was a “complement” to other resource flows, but other capital flows now dwarfed it, she pointed out, emphasizing that the development financing strategy for the twenty-first century needed a wide focus, with countries unlocking their own domestic resources and engaging the private sector.
Calling for continued liberalization of trade and for the deepening of the rules-based international trading environment, she noted the importance of debt financing in growth and development. Much had been achieved through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) and the programmes of the Paris Club. The decision taken at Gleneagles to cancel 100 per cent of eligible outstanding debts had been expected to reduce the debt burden of affected countries by more than 80 per cent relative to pre-HIPC levels, she said, adding that she would continue to advocate for responsible lending and borrowing by all parties. On innovative sources of financing, she stressed that the United States would not participate in any system imposing a global tax, pointing out that decisions on taxation were the prerogative of individual States and fundamental to self-determination and sovereignty.
ESNART MPOKOSA (Zambia), associating herself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said the long impasse in the Doha Round not only affected the credibility of the multilateral trading system, it had led to the proliferation of regional and bilateral trading arrangements and could even lead to protectionism in the longer term. Zambia was committed to multilateral trading and had established preferential trade access initiatives with the United States, China, India, Canada and Brazil. The Sixth National Development Plan prioritized infrastructure improvement, in line with the Almaty Programme of Action, and Zambia had joined forces with others to harmonize infrastructure projects in the region.
External debt was still a major threat to progress, she said, adding that least developed countries remained the most vulnerable and the most at risk. Developed countries were providing assistance on managing debt, she noted, saying she was pleased that the Second Committee would hold a special event on the subject of sovereign debt crises. Zambia’s own debt sustainability had improved, with debt-servicing funds now aimed at poverty reduction and employment generation projects, as well as fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals, she said. The challenge now was to maintain a sustainable debt level while accelerating growth. Zambia’s economic policies were designed to ensure that due diligence was performed on any new loan commitments to ensure they remained sustainable. That was particularly important as the country moved towards graduation to middle- income status, a time when non-concessionary financing would be the norm.
SAMADOU OUSMAN (Niger), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said trade had always played a significant role in prosperity. Unfortunately through, globalization and market rules, restrictive trade barriers and other non-tariff measures were likely to have a negative effect on Niger. While the Doha Round was meant to mitigate that impact, it remained deadlocked. Only a few regional trade and other multilateral agreements provided the country with a glimmer of hope. Niger was a landlocked developing country, which hampered development efforts, despite its uranium and oil development, he said. Debt that was supposed to help developing countries grow was instead a burden. Initiatives for the cancellation and rescheduling of debt had saved Niger from bankruptcy, but debt remained an issue requiring adequate support and long-term attention. Welcoming innovative methods of development financing, he warned nevertheless that none of those methods should replace ODA.
HAJIME UEDA ( Japan) said fiscal consolidation and economic growth must be pursued in tandem. A comprehensive policy package announced in July focused on the environment, health, agriculture as well as small and medium-sized enterprises. It also included measures to ensure fiscal consolidation and establish sustainability over the coming years, which would be bolstered by the vital work of the international financial institutions. The Government reforms and quota increases agreed in 2010 were necessary to ensure that a country’s influence matched its economic weight, he said, adding that the international community was responsible for ensuring that trade and investment kept flowing and for helping the integration of developing countries. Japan was active in aid for trade projects and had contributed $12 million in that regard, and had established a review process to share expertise in the area of lessons learned. He stressed the large role played by the United Nations in global economic governance, saying it was important to consider new mechanisms intended to ensure good governance.
MOJTABA ALIBABAEE (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that a decline in trade had had a severe impact on developing countries through falling export revenues, restricted access to trade finance as well as reduced investment in production diversification and in the promotion of exports. To fully harness the potential of trade, it was important to uphold a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system that contributed to growth, sustainable development and employment, particularly for developing countries, he stressed. The United Nations had a crucial role in addressing issues concerning international trade and development, as well as the persistent systemic inequities in international economic relations. He noted in particular that slow progress in enhancing the voice and participation of developing countries in international financial and monetary institutions, were detrimental to developing countries. The impasse in the Doha negotiations reflected wider tensions between globalization and national development interests. Regarding international development, he expressed concern over the current systemic problems, including the turbulence in the global financial markets and the widespread fiscal strains that were costly and disruptive, including for employment and productive investment.
DIANA ALI AL-HADID ( Jordan), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, called for effective regulation and a sound financial system to support macroeconomic policy. Jordan’s economic programmes aimed to maintain stability by implementing fiscal, monetary and structural policies to address challenges while fostering high and inclusive growth. Its economy was among the most open in the Middle East, with tourism receipts, remittances, FDI flows and external grants all playing important roles. Growth was expected to hit 2.75 per cent in 2012, and to be back up to 5 per cent by 2015, she said. However, there had been slow progress on international trade reform, she noted, expressing hope for a successful conclusion of the Doha Round, particularly its development dimension.
ZAHEER A. JANJUA, Director-General, ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, associated himself with the Group of 77 and China, and said the developing world’s resilience to the financial crisis was “wearing thin”. The international financial system must support development efforts, and “greater urgency and seriousness” was required on increasing the voice and participation of developing countries in the governing structures of the World Bank and IMF. Despite trade’s crucial role in development, there was an increasing tendency towards trade protectionism and continuing failure to negotiate a development-oriented conclusion of the Doha Round, he said. While aware of complications regarding debt relief, he said it was critical to consolidate the debt relief provided to developing countries covered by current initiatives, and to extend it to those not eligible under existing initiatives. Grants and concessionary loans were preferred methods for improving debt sustainability, he said.
TLEUZHAN S. SEKSENBAY ( Kazakhstan) said his Government had adopted and implemented new development programs and innovative projects in all economic sectors, and due to timely and sufficient anti-crisis measures, had been able to maintain a positive dynamic during the most difficult periods that had affected the international economy and financial system. However, it was important to note that while its national policies had proven to be successful, other countries that had adopted such measures had seen mixed results. In a globalized and interdependent world, policies adopted only at the national level were not sufficient, he said, emphasizing that global economic recovery required an efficient and globally coordinated policy for sustained growth and development. The United Nations had a central role to play in international discussions on the world economy, sustainable development and the architecture of global economic governance, he said. The Organization could achieve political consensus and make a significant contribution in promoting inclusive and equitable economic growth and poverty reduction all over the world, he said, proposing in that vein a United Nations conference in Astana next May, as a follow-up to the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crises and Its Impact on Development.
AMEL SULIMAN SID AHMED ELSAYED ( Sudan) associated herself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries. Calling for “unshakeable will” in the pursuit of development, she said that despite facing an economic blockade imposed by the Northern countries, Sudan had been compensated by its partnerships with those of Asia and Africa. However, economic repression continued and trade was slowing down, she said, urging the lifting of the blockade imposed on her country and calling for implementation of the Sao Paolo Cycle of the Global System of Trade Preferences.
She said the international system should be based more firmly on justice and equality, establishing democratic representation for all so that the voices of developing countries could be heard. Sudan must be allowed to receive aid, she said, underlining also the importance of external-debt mitigation. The global economic crisis was the result of mistakes in the international financial system, and steps were therefore needed to mitigate their negative effects on development. Developed countries must show greater flexibility in revising the principles, values and working methods of the international system, and the Bretton Woods institutions must be reformed to reflect the capabilities of countries in today’s world, she said.
YOUSSOUFOU BAMBA (C ôte d’Ivoire), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the slowdown in net private capital flows, and above all ODA to developing countries, particularly those in Africa, was a cause of particular concern to his country. The crisis experienced by Côte d’Ivoire had resulted in the degradation of health care and education, and had caused an increase in poverty. The President was working to stabilize the security situation and implement a programme to meet the challenges of health and hygiene, education and other public services. One of the steps taken was the establishment of a national plan to combat poverty and put the economy back on track for sustainable and inclusive growth.
The President had also put measures in place to improve macroeconomic policies and implement reforms in the coffee and cocoa industries as well as the mining and energy sectors, he continued. Côte d’Ivoire’s growth had seen an increase of 2 per cent in 2011 and it was expected to reach 8 per cent in 2012, he said, adding that the goal was to reach double-digit growth by 2014. From the present until 2015, the Government intended to provide billions of dollars to the agriculture, health and industrial sectors, he said. The private and public sectors must work together to ensure the success of those bold investment programmes. Since its independence, Côte d’Ivoire had managed lasting relationships with international financial institutions, but in the wake of the economic and financial crisis, those entities must be strengthened in hopes of dealing with risks without causing additional difficulties.
JEAN BENGALY (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, noted that least developed countries accounted for 12 per cent of the world’s population, but only 0.9 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) and just over 1 per cent of global exports. The development agenda must therefore take the special situations of various countries into account, he said, stressing the need for negotiations to ensure that they benefited more from trade. It was vital to promoting social development, and Burkina Faso relied heavily on it due to its dependence on exporting raw materials and foodstuffs to developed countries.
The national strategy aimed to build a competitive economy, and its principles included trade liberalization and the relaxation of regulation in order to attract local and international investors, he continued. Despite progress, however, the trade balance was still incorrect and large portions of the country’s population remained in poverty. Agriculture was still vulnerable and the combination of high input costs and lack of infrastructure were also hampering trade. He said he looked forward to a successful conclusion of the Doha negotiations as a means to end protectionism and open global markets. Burkina Faso also welcomed the latest session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), including the international consensus on the need for an open, rules-based and non-discriminatory global trading system.
FRANCIS ASSISI CHULLIKATT, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said the well-being of all people was in jeopardy from the consequences of the global economic and financial crisis, which could have dire consequences on humanity. Economic systems, especially financial systems, must build on solid moral and ethical foundations, he emphasized, saying the corrupt business culture in which selfishness had replaced temperance and common good must end. That culture promoted wealth capture rather than wealth creation, and the absence of regulation had led to fraud and other illegal actions that must be addressed. The absence of laws and ethical standards created bondage rather than freedom for people around the world. Just as one community could not have a clean river unless the community upstream protected the river, the same was true of the financial markets, he said, adding that what happened at the top spilled over to poor at the bottom.
He went on to underline that equalities between countries should not continue to grow further, noting that many of the world’s inequalities fostered trade barriers and animosity to migrants. Not only was the creation of a more just and fair trading environment necessary, but austerity for the poor, weak and marginalized was neither a just or effective macroeconomic policy, he said. The economic downturn was the result of certain people in developed countries having made bad economic choices, and it was thus necessary to ensure that the consequences were not borne by the poor, but by those who had caused the economic inequalities and were able to bear them. Noting that environmental health was closely linked to the well-being of the community and every individual, he said the path towards an ethical and just economy required just institutions and actors. It must be built from the bottom up, taking into account the goals of humanity as a whole.
TELMA VIALE, Special Representative to the United Nations and Director, International Labour Organization (ILO), said that while Governments were rightly concerned about fiscal deficits, ILO had cautioned that premature retrenchment threatened to weaken growth and worked against both public and private sectors efforts to reduce the debt occasioned by the financial crisis. With unemployment, youth unemployment in particular, reaching extremely high levels, the costs in terms of social and political cohesion, as well as future economic potential, were rising, she warned. Policy measures should consider both the demand and supply sides of the labour market by supporting investment in infrastructure, extending social protection the coverage, and investing in job prospects for young people.
While the holders of financial assets could protect themselves against fluctuations in the global markets through sophisticated financial instruments, she said, the large majority of people was not in a similar position. They depended on income from their labour, and if that faltered, entire households were likely to suffer. Thus, strong and well-designed social protection systems with broad coverage were critical to ensuring job and income security, she said. Reform and repair of the financial sector should be carried out with an emphasis on policy coherence among trade and investment policies, labour and social policies as well as macroeconomic and financial polices.
VICTOR LAUTARO OVALLES-SANTOS ( Venezuela) called for a profound transformation of the international financial system and architecture, emphasizing that it should take place under the aegis of the United Nations, with the Organization taking responsibility for designing a system that would result in a more humane and just world. The Economic and Social Council had issued a resolution on the subject and a final decision should come from the General Assembly, he said. Many countries appreciated the chance for the high-level thematic debate on the subject, and there had been proposals for greater action by the United Nations in the follow-up to the Conference on the Financial Crisis, led mainly by countries of the South, that had called for a more inclusive and open system. More State regulation was needed in addition to the counter-cyclical policies implemented in attempts to break the hold of the Bretton Woods institutions on development, he said, calling also for greater integration on the regional level with the Banco del Sur, a good example of the sort of policy needed.
* *** *