|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
20th & 21st Meetings (AM & PM)
Trade Reform, Removal of Protectionist Measures Vital to Economic Growth,
Second Committee Hears in Debate on Macroeconomic Policy Questions
A free and open global trading system could be a powerful engine for economic growth and poverty reduction - particularly in turbulent economic times, the representative from Canada said today, as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) took up macroeconomic policy questions.
Open and rules-based trade created jobs and spurred economic growth at the national and international levels, she continued, and the international community must stand firm against protectionist pressures.
Echoing that sentiment, the representative from China said that international trade was a vibrant part of the world economy and the international community should strengthen and safeguard a multilateral trade system, remove trade barriers, resist all forms of protectionism and promote common prosperity.
Malaysia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the Association believed the World Trade Organization (WTO) needed to monitor protectionist policies and their impacts worldwide, recognizing that an open, universal, rules-based, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral system contributed to global growth and sustainable development.
He said that the Association was concerned by the fragility of the global economic environment and the financial turbulence that hit advanced economies, as well as the impact it had on the world development agenda, particularly for those most vulnerable. Such events were costly and disruptive and threatened achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Australia’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Cairns Group, said that while it was understood that the economic environment was uncertain, volatility needed to be addressed by creating more stable and predictable markets. Greater investment in agriculture and trade policy reform, particularly in places where food security issues were a concern, was imperative. Trade was critical, especially if future food production growth did not occur in the same areas where population growth was anticipated. He believed agriculture must be part of the December World Trade Organization discussions and that distortions needed to be addressed to increase food security and make the market more efficient.
Several other delegates emphasized the need to conclude the Doha Round, with the representative from New Zealand saying that his country’s prosperity depended largely on its ability to reach beyond its borders for trade and investment opportunities. His country firmly concluded that the Doha Round provided the best path to an inclusive global solution.
The representative from Libya agreed, saying that 12 years after the beginning of the Doha Round, it was time for Governments to ensure its conclusion in order to increase the possibilities for global economic growth, trade, and employment. Developing countries needed to access international markets, but debt had severely impacted their trade participation and development efforts, making them unable to honour their debt commitments.
Speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the representative from Jamaica said that the Community had the unfortunate distinction of being among the most highly indebted regions in the world, and unsustainable debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratios had worsened since the global economic crisis. Noting that high-indebtedness had crowded out private investment and financing, he stressed the importance of examining debt sustainability in relation to middle-income developing countries.
Unilateral economic barriers were also a major burden on developing countries, said the representative from Syria, saying they prevented countries from participating in a fair international trade system. Imposing unilateral economic measures on Syria, especially during the current crisis, was arbitrary and caused indiscriminate suffering to its people.
Earlier, introducing documents for the Committee’s consideration were, President of the Trade and Development Board of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations in Geneva; Director of the Division for International Trade in Goods, Services and Commodities of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development; Chief, Committee for Development Policy Secretariat in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs; and, Head of Debt and Development Finance Branch, Global and Development Strategies of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Also delivering statements on macroeconomic questions were representatives of Fiji (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Cuba (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Bangladesh, Serbia, India, Belarus, Pakistan, Brazil, Russian Federation, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Jordan, Singapore, Nigeria, Zambia, Thailand, Qatar, Iran and Bolivia.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 29 October, to take up United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), agriculture development, food security and nutrition.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to take up macroeconomic policy questions. Before it were reports on “International trade and development” (documents A/68/205, A/68/218, A/68/15 (Part I), A/68/15 (Part I)/Add.1, A/68/15 (Part I)/Corr.1, A/68/15 (Part II), A/68/15 (Part II)/Corr.1, A/68/15 (Part III) and A/68/15 (Part IV)), “External debt sustainability and development” (document A/68/203) and “Commodities” (document A/68/204).
Introduction of Reports
TRIYONO WIBOWO, President of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations in Geneva, introduced the reports of the Trade and Development Board. He said debates for the sixtieth session of the governing body of UNCTAD provided insight on how to further develop the concept of development-centred and inclusive globalization in policy areas. Panellists and participants explored the notion of new growth patterns and discussed factors that would enable developing economies to achieve sustainable growth. The Conference’s contribution to the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries was considered, as were efforts to help developing countries graduate. There was consensus that capacity-building was the only realistic avenue for sustained and inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction in least developed countries. Concerning economic development in Africa, private sector contributions were examined, along with other recommendations on how UNCTAD could play a role in building new partnerships between Asia and Africa for the sharing of best practices. Participants suggested that the Conference needed to support quantitative data on development with qualitative measures. It was agreed that among the most important current multilateral discussions taking place was the formulation of the post-2015 development agenda.
GUILLERMO VALLES GALMÉS, Director of the Division for International Trade in Goods, Services and Commodities of UNCTAD, introduced the report of the Secretary-General on “International trade and development” and “World commodity trends and prospects” and said the reports indicated that developing countries grew faster in terms of trade and output compared to developed countries, from 24 per cent to 44 per cent. A large part of the growth was in manufactured goods, rather than just the export of raw materials. Trade in services had also expanded and showed tremendous growth potential, providing an avenue for millions of people to escape poverty. However, not all countries benefitted to the same extent. While many experienced growth, many others experienced export contraction. Least developed countries in sub-Saharan Africa remained marginalized and unable to realize the benefit of trade enjoyed by other countries. The dividends of trade were not equally shared across societies, and trade dynamism had yet to enjoy the type of sustained growth that was seen prior to the global economic crisis in 2008. Recent trends indicated that by reviving trade dynamism, substantial progress in improving the quality of life could be realized. Opportunities for growth were not automatic, so concerted efforts needed to be undertaken to draw developing countries into the global trade environment. Low interest rates and loose economic policies were among the key problems affecting commodity price volatility. A strategic development framework that strengthened coherence in international economic policies between trade and development policies was critical. Coherence should also be strengthened between multilateral and regional agreements to create an enabling environment for an inclusive trade system.
ANA LUIZA CORTEZ, Chief, Committee for Development Policy Secretariat in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on “Unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries”. The document was prepared in response to resolution 66/186 of 22 December 2011, in which the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to continue to monitor the imposition of unilateral coercive economic measures against developing countries, and to study their impact on the affected countries. To that end, a note verbale was issued to Member States inviting them to provide their views on the matter. As in previous occasions, the 18 Member States who responded manifested their disagreement with the imposition of unilateral economic measures as instrument of political and economic coercion. In their view, those actions were not in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. The two international organizations who responded indicated that unilateral sanctions adversely impacted the populations of affected countries, in particular the most vulnerable groups.
YUEFEN LI, Head of Debt and Development Finance Branch, Global and Development Strategies in UNCTAD, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on “Debt sustainability and development”. The reduction in official development assistance (ODA) was attributed to the tightening of Government budgets in donor countries in response to fiscal pressure associated with the global economic crisis. On debt, she said, 2012 marked the third consecutive year that the growth of external debt had exceeded 10 per cent following nearly a decade of average growth around 7 per cent. She summarized the diverse debt trends by region, namely in Europe, Central Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, East Asia and the Pacific. For the 49 least developed countries, 2012 saw the total external debt increase to an estimated 7 per cent in nominal terms compared to 2011. As of April 2013, there were two least developed countries in debt distress and 10 in high risk of debt distress. The economic crisis must be seen as an opportunity to reform the international financial and monetary system. Maintaining debt sustainability can be encouraged by the adoption of adequate policies and standards emphasizing the prevention of debt crises.
LUKE DAUNIVALU (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that for trade to have a positive impact on development, it must be carried out in a fair manner, with a strong emphasis on both development and assistance from an enabling environment at national and international levels. To ensure that the multilateral trading system functioned effectively, the World Trade Organization (WTO) must undertake “serious” reforms aimed at addressing its structural bias, unfair rules and “substantial” power asymmetries in negotiations between developed and developing countries.
He went on to urge the timely conclusion the Doha Round and for a “balanced and tangible” outcome at the WTO Ministerial Conference in December of this year. That outcome should address concerns about implementation, market access to developing countries, trade barriers, and trade distorting subsidies, among others. Reiterating the importance of debt relief, he stressed that sovereign debt management was an important issue for developing countries, as profit-seeking by venture funds had hampered their debt restructuring efforts. The time was ripe for creating a structured mechanism for resolving sovereign debt crises and, as such, he called on States to contribute to those discussions with a view to creating such a mechanism.
E. COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that economies in the Caribbean Community had been hard pressed to find effective strategies to address the effects of the confluence of crises of recent years, such as the global economic crisis and the food and fuel crises. However, despite their Governments’ challenges in maintaining domestic economic stability, advancing their development agenda and allocating sufficient resources to social development programmes, they remained committed to internationally agreed development goals and would continue to pursue policies aimed at growth, job creation and the protection of those most vulnerable.
On debt sustainability and development, he said the Community had the unfortunate distinction of being among the most highly indebted regions in the world, and unsustainable debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratios had worsened since the global financial and economic crisis. Noting that high-indebtedness had crowded out private investment and financing and that most Caribbean countries no longer qualified for concessional borrowing from international financial institutions, he stressed the importance of examining debt sustainability in relation to middle-income developing countries. In that regard, he supported the establishment of a working group that would continue to study improved approaches to debt restructuring that took a holistic approach to debt sustainability.
On international trade and development, he said that many developing countries, such as those in CARICOM, had been unable to benefit fully from the current multilateral trading system due to uncertainties and longstanding systemic imbalances. As such, he said the international community must continue taking steps to address such imbalances, while his region should focus on producing goods and services that were competitive in the global markets and that reflected the changed realities of the production process. Countries within the Caribbean would also have to look seriously at diversifying their markets, while maintaining existing trading and development partnerships. That had to be the route to achieving economic growth, he concluded.
LEON GONZALEZ ( Cuba), speaking for CELAC, said the central role of the General Assembly in macroeconomic policies issues should be strengthened. Although the gap between developed and developing countries had shrunk in much of the South, there was still a long way to go. Structural changes must continue towards the strengthening of the international financial architecture, and ensuring fair representation of all Member States in international financial institutions. In order to attain those goals, the fulfilment of all official development assistance commitments was crucial, he said, stressing the importance of creating a formal monitoring system with the Economic and Social Council. Furthermore, the international community should examine options for an effective, equitable, durable, independent and development-oriented debt restructuring and international debt-resolution mechanism.
Development should remain the central focus of the Doha negotiations, in particular on reforming agriculture protectionism, addressing the most trade-distorting measures, and preserving the special and differential treatment for all developing countries. The international financial architecture should be built to promote financial stability and adequate financial flows for developing countries. It should recognize the new realities of developing countries’ participation and representation in decision making and confronting structural failures. As developing economies were seriously affected by the rules and economic decisions in developed countries, he urged economic authorities to avoid increasing systemic risks. Without urgent, profound and comprehensive actions on macroeconomic issues, the world would not be able to overcome poverty, hunger, inequality and marginalization of thousands of millions of people.
HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Group of 77, said that ASEAN continued to expand despite uncertainties in the global economy. The Association remained vigilant against further contraction of external demand, but called for stronger international policies to address global economic challenges. ASEAN stressed the need for fiscal soundness and called for further integration between member States. Efforts to consolidate and expand regional integration initiatives were at the centre of initiatives to increase regional agreements including the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement, comprising one-third of the world’s population and 13 per cent of its GDP. Through the Agreement, trade between ASEAN and China grew from $59.6 billion to $192.5 billion.
He said the ASEAN was committed to a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system that contributed to global growth and sustainable development. The WTO needed to monitor protectionist policies and their impacts worldwide. The Association was concerned by the fragility of the global economic environment and the financial turbulence that hit advanced economies, as well as the impact it had on the world development agenda, particularly for those most vulnerable. Such events were costly and disruptive, particularly for developing countries, and threatened the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. To address the excessive volatility of commodities, ASEAN recently agreed on a new, strengthened version of its Emergency Rice Reserve, which had been in place since 1979. The size, funding and coverage of the Reserve were significantly expanded by the addition of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. The scope of the Reserve also evolved, adding the more ambitious objective of acting as a tool for stabilizing rice prices in the region.
CHRIS BACK ( Australia), speaking on behalf of the Cairns Group, said a significant proportion of the population was dependent on agriculture for sustenance, which made the international agricultural trade environment vital for development. Distortions needed to be addressed in order to make the market more efficient and lead to greater food security. Trade was critical, especially if future food production growth did not occur in the same areas where population growth was expected to occur. More investment in agriculture and trade policy reform, particularly in places where food security issues were a concern, was imperative. He was concerned that the distortions and imbalances in agriculture continued to be so much greater than for industrial goods.
He said that agriculture must be part of the upcoming WTO discussions. While it was understood that the economic environment was uncertain, volatility needed to be addressed by creating more stable and predictable markets. The WTO meeting, critical for the future of agriculture, needed to deliver a concrete agriculture reform package that took into account the development goals of all Member States, but particularly the most vulnerable. Members needed to constructively address export competition, tariffs and public stockholding for food security with the goal of achieving tangible results.
KHAM-INH KHITCHADETH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating his delegation with the Group of 77 and China, spoke on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries. Spill-over from the relapse of the world economy had taken its toll on developing countries, including those in the Group, who were most vulnerable to external shocks. Although there had been considerable progress and achievements of the past decades in integrating landlocked developing countries into the regional and global economic system, their share of world trade, however, stood at only 1.1 per cent in 2001. He called for the successful conclusion of the Doha Development Round, with favourable outcomes for such landlocked countries, and underscored the importance of adopting an agreement on trade facilitation that specified binding commitments on alleviating the special challenges of those countries.
He went on to say that a development-friendly solution to the impasse in the Doha Round of trade negotiations could open the way for increased market access and trade flows, focusing on the needs of landlocked developing countries. The emphasis should remain on the commitment to make operationally effective the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries. He reiterated the value of constructing a non-discriminatory, balanced and rule-based multilateral trading system in order to promote growth and sustainable development equally in all regions, and he urged developed countries to honour the commitments outlined in the Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration on providing financial and technical assistance.
ABDULMONEM ESHANTA (Libya), associating his delegation with the Group of 77 and China, said that twelve years after the beginning of the Doha Round, it was time for Governments to ensure its conclusion in order to increase the possibilities for global economic growth, trade, and employment. Developing countries needed to access international markets, but debt had severely impacted their trade participation and development efforts, making them unable to honour their debt commitments. Thus, debt must be examined through restructuring and debt elimination in order to allow developing countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and begin the path towards a new development agenda. Commodities made up a large portion of developing countries exports, and their production led to the possibility of employment, he stated. He also highlighted that market fluctuations adversely impacted developing countries’ economies.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, CAIRNS Group, and ASEAN, said his country was “starting to feel the heat” of the current economic and financial crisis. Recovery had become even more uneven and fragile as time went by. The international community should continue to strengthen cooperation and coordination to stabilize international markets in order to gain investment confidence. Long-term investment had declined while foreign direct investment had decreased. Pointing to the weakening of major Asian currencies, he said Malaysia’s had depreciated by 7.6 per cent year to date. Decisive policy actions were urgently required. There was a need to redesign the regulatory structure of an increasingly complex system, he said, highlighting several developments in the international Islamic financial system, which had experienced substantial growth and stability.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, acknowledged the roles UNCTAD and WTO had played in mainstreaming trade into the global development agenda. At Rio+20, trade’s importance to development had been reaffirmed, he said, conceding that it was no “magic bullet”, but underlining its potential to help eradicate poverty. Least developed countries lagged on trade, as in other fields, and accounted for only 1.2 per cent of world trade. That share had been stagnant for four decades, showing that the current international financial architecture and trade regime were not helping such countries to compete internationally. Duty-free, quota-free access to all markets was needed, with simple, preferential rules of origin also essential. He called on all States to fulfil their existing trade commitments and to seek a meaningful development dividend at the Ninth WTO Ministerial Meeting. As sustainable development was predicated on poverty eradication, least developed countries had to be mainstreamed into global development discourse to ensure “the future we want” was achieved, he said.
BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that the international trade system continued to suffer from barriers due to a lack of political will from developed countries, which continued to skirt their international commitments. Unilateral barriers were a major burden on developing countries and prevented them from fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals and participating in a fair international trade system. He emphasized the need for open access to the WTO in line with relevant General Assembly resolutions. Imposing unilateral economic measures on Syria — especially during the current crisis — was arbitrary and resulted in indiscriminate suffering to its people, as well as exacerbating the situation. The “so called Friends of Syria” launched those measures, adversely affecting the lives of the country’s people and their access to food, education, health care, and jobs. Economic unilateral measures were a breach of the Charter, international trade rules, and human rights principles, he reiterated. Engaging in dialogue on the basis of mutual respect and territorial integrity would be more beneficial.
LIDIJA BUBANJA ( Serbia), associating herself with the European Union, said that her country had taken steps to reduce public consumption and recover fiscal soundness. However, its efforts to restore growth, increase GDP and decrease the debt to GDP ratio faced the problems of declining foreign direct investment (FDI) and ODA. She expressed support for an agreed rule-based approach to sovereign debt workouts to increase predictability, and a timely debt restructuring. She also noted that Serbia hoped to remove the remaining obstacles to its membership in the WTO in the coming months, so that it might be able to join next year.
SHRUTI CHOUDHRY (India), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said that trade and investment, and an open, rules-based, transparent and non-discriminatory WTO-based trading system could play an important role in restoring global growth. Those imperatives would also have to anchor the approach to the post-2015 development agenda. The continued fragility of the global economic recovery and the weak demand in developed countries continued to hobble growth in international trade. Growth in large developing countries had also slowed down. Unemployment remained high, and food and energy price volatility had not been contained. Calling on the international community to strengthen the WTO and reinvigorate the Doha Development Round, she said it was imperative to get back to the negotiating table with the will to reach an outcome that was fair, balanced and equitable, with development at its core. She also reiterated the need to remove barriers and trade distorting subsidizes.
BRIANNA PETERSON ( Canada), aligning herself with the Cairns Group, said her country believed domestic resource mobilization was the most important source of development financing. National ownership and good governance were fundamental and required sustained efforts from and collaboration across the public and private sectors. The private sector in particular was essential to fostering the broader economic conditions for market-driven growth through effective and transparent economic institutions, the right enabling environment for doing business, and strategic investment in public goods. Her country believed that free and open trade was a powerful engine for economic growth and poverty reduction, even more so in turbulent economic times. Open and rules-based trade created jobs and spurred economic growth at the national and international levels. Canada remained steadfast in its conviction that countries must stand firm against protectionist pressures. High public debt and sustainability concerns in some advanced and emerging countries posed significant challenges to the global economy, with sound public finances fundamental to economic prosperity.
JIM MCLAY (New Zealand), associating himself with Australia on behalf of the Cairns Group, said the weak and vulnerable global recovery restricted growth, job creation and sustainable development; he stressed the need for strong leadership and decisive action to provide market confidence, foster financial stability and strengthen growth prospects. As a small trading nation, New Zealand’s economic prosperity depended largely on its ability to reach beyond its borders for trade and investment opportunities. His country firmly concluded that the WTO Doha Round of trade negotiations provided the best path to an inclusive global solution to that, and he expressed disappointment that attending States had not yet reached agreement on the Round. New Zealand was keenly aware of the drag of unsustainable public debt on national economic growth and employment, as well as global recovery. It was evident that there was significant capacity for the sharing of best practice and experience among developing countries in the engagement and management of relationships with global credit rating agencies.
Mr. PISARAVICH ( Belarus) said that international trade was essential for development, growth and food security, yet it was burdened by a wide range of issues, largely due to the global economic crisis and its repercussions. The global trade system should be open, transparent, non-discriminatory, and function on a common set of laws. For his country, these principles were not merely words. Belarus believed that the United Nations should be more active and increase assistance to countries affected by economic sanctions. Regional agreements were another important part of trade relations, but should not replace, but rather compliment the international trade system.
WANG HONGBO ( China) associating herself with the Group of 77, said the world economy was experiencing a difficult recovery process with the growth of emerging countries slowing down and unemployment still high. International trade was a vibrant part of the world economy. The international community should strengthen and safeguard a multilateral trade system, remove trade barriers, resist all forms of protectionism and promote common prosperity. The global value chain was a new phenomenon, and could be beneficial if it promoted the optimum distribution of resources. A large number of developing countries had a hard time integrating with the global chain, while China believed WTO should be at the core of the world trading system. All countries should push forward for the completion of the Doha Round of negotiations. The debt issue was also one of the major issues making it difficult for developing countries to promote economic growth and realize the Millennium Development Goals. The external debt situation in developing countries was unsustainable. The regulation of the financial and commodity market should be strengthened to prevent price fluctuations and increase food security.
AHMAD NASEEM WARRAICH ( Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, called for the establishment of a rule-based, open and non-discriminatory international trading system, and for the conclusion of the Doha Round. Capacity-building through investments, technology and best practices advice was important, and a sustainable level of debt was essential to support economic growth. Further, the debt problem highlighted the need to establish a rule based debt structuring mechanism. Thus, it was crucial to initiate “real work” on such a mechanism at the international level. There was also a need to recognize the importance of commodities for development of developing countries. Those countries’ efforts on integrating local producers into international supply chains must be supported by the international community. Trade facilitation in the international movement of agriculture commodities remained an important initiative for access to food at reasonable prices.
GUILHERME DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA ( Brazil) said trade must help foster sustainable development. Weak and uneven recovery from the economic crisis had translated into reduced annual growth of global trade flows to levels below global GDP growth. Use of protectionist measures had also increased, mostly among developed countries, including through expansionary money policies. Developing countries must step up efforts to fight protectionism in all its forms, including measures not covered by WTO agreements, such as agricultural export subsidies. The WTO Ministerial Conference would offer an invaluable opportunity to move towards an ambitious, equitable and balanced conclusion of the Doha Round of negotiations. He urged ensuring concrete results in the area of agricultural export subsidies and living up to the principle of special and differential treatment. On debt sustainability, he said heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) deserved more attention.
IRINA MEDVEDEVA ( Russian Federation) said she supported combating trade protectionism and the initiative by the G-20 to adopt a resolution to postpone the implementation of further protectionist measures. She emphasized the need to strengthen the WTO, stressing that the Organization’s new members could facilitate a wider sphere of adoption for an open and inclusive international trading system. Together with Kazakhstan and Belarus, the Russian Federation had created a customs union which works with the universal principles of the WTO. A single regulation system of key economic areas had been developed. The three countries had agreed on policies in regulatory measures. In 2012, the volume of trade for those countries rose by 8.7 per cent, she said. To that end, it was crucial to take collective action to find solutions including within the multilateral trade agreements.
DOCTOR MASHABANE (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that international trading systems must have social and economic growth as its main objective. A rules-based, non-discriminatory trading system was imperative, especially for developing countries, he added, reiterating the need to conclude the Doha Round. To that end, the outcome of the Ministerial Conference in Bali must focus on resolving trade barriers and restrictions. Highlighting that the financial crisis had necessitated the focus of debt relief, he said, that as part of its commitment to improve debt management, South Africa would host an event to address the matter. The recent trends in volatilities in commodity prices had adverse effects on developing countries. Countries must refrain from using trade distorting practices to speculate with commodity prices, he concluded.
RODNEY CHARLES ( Trinidad and Tobago) said developing countries faced such challenges as limited market access, as well as resource and supply-side constraints. Given that, the multilateral trading system must consider the needs of small vulnerable economies in order to enhance their competitiveness. As a “high-income, middle-income country”, Trinidad and Tobago faced limited “Aid for Trade” flows. Differences in economic size, development and resource endowment must be considered in the scope of special and differential treatment made available within the global trading system. He also urged development banks to move towards flexible, concessional, fast-disbursing assistance to help countries dealing with high external debt. Structural reforms in the areas of trade and external debt sustainability must be included in the post-2015 agenda.
TERRY ROBL ( United States) said the international community needed to use all tools available, including engagement with the private sector, to promote trade and development. The United Nations had a role to play in monitoring macroeconomic trends and its unique capacities could help ensure the global financial system was effective and inclusive. Countries now had unprecedented access to credit, yet they must effectively manage that debt in order to realize stability and growth. Domestic resource management through diversified tax revenues was often one of the best methods for sustained growth. Commodity prices, while still high and volatile, were substantially lower than in previous years. Some sectors’ recent success was due to food market transparency, which ensured responses to market uncertainty. Vibrant trade could reduce unemployment and underemployment and help the collective ability to accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. There had been a substantial transformation in development, in part, due to changes within the developing countries themselves. The United States would continue with its policy of providing effective, transparent aid that targeted the most vulnerable, including through multilateral institutions.
DIANA AL HADID ( Jordan) said the crisis of sovereign debts had become increasingly risky for the stability of the world economy and could throw it back into recession. Jordan’s increasing debt load had led to a national recession, reduced income, and a lowering of its credit rating. Jordan emphasized the importance of an international mechanism for the treatment of debt issues to understand the impact of the world financial crisis on countries’ ability to sustain debt. There was a close link between development and international trade. WTO agreements should be integral to the establishment of a multilateral trade system that curbed protectionism, which weakened the world economy and its recovery.
JONATHAN HAN ( Singapore) underscored the growing need for global economic governance mechanisms for policy coordination and cooperation, noting that the G-20 was the main forum for intergovernmental coordination in the area of economics and finance. At the same time, wider engagement with non-G-20 members was needed, which would help build an integrated global financial system able to overcome fiscal imbalances. An inclusive, transparent economic system, based on the rule of law, was of fundamental importance and the United Nations had a central role to play in the dialogue on that matter. The search for sustainable growth models required economic restructuring in order to strengthen institutions and increase social support, challenges Singapore also faced. He urged countries to keep their borders open to trade and adhere to the rules-based system.
JOHN EJINAKA (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that in order for countries to achieve their full potential, a non-discriminatory and fair trade environment must be established. To that end, he called for the conclusion of the Doha Round. To improve its global competitiveness, Nigeria designed an economic agenda that recognized trade as an engine of growth. The dwindling flow of ODA to the economies of the South remained a matter of great concern. Migrant workers and other diaspora sources were particularly important sources of financing. Remittance costs must be reduced. Futhermore, other stakeholders such as post offices and service credit operators must be enabled to provide remittance funds to rural communities. Moreover, there must be no conditionality attached to aid flow, he said, calling on the international community to reform the governance structure of the international financial institutions through granting a greater voice to Africa and other developing countries. Debt relief and restructuring would mitigate the impact of the global economic crisis.
ELIPHAS CHINYONGA ( Zambia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said international trade played an important role in development. Bilateral and regional trading arrangements must be complementary to the international trading system. The Doha development agenda was an important platform to create reasonable progress towards the attainment of sustainability in global trade. He called upon the international community to go beyond the preferential market access schemes under duty-free, quota-free market access and investment by ensuring that developing countries become collaborative trade partners. International financial institutions must review the impact of debt relief and restructuring initiatives in order to gain a good understanding of why some countries persistently had debt problems even after completion of the HIPC Initiative. No single indicator must be used to make a definitive judgement on a country’s debt sustainability. Coordinated policy was needed to foster debt relief and debt management to coordinate international sustainable development.
Ms. SUJIRA (Thailand), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said as trade was an important catalyst for development in her region, a rule-based, transparent, non-discriminatory and inclusive multilateral trading system could promote sustainable and inclusive growth. Thailand firmly believed the multilateral approach towards trade negation, outlined in the Doha Round negotiation, could prevent the threat of protectionism, generate a fair and reliable trading system and become a vital instrument for poverty alleviation. Thailand also believed, she said, in the representation and voting rights of developing countries in international financial institutions in order to enhance coherence and consistency of the global financial system. To this end, UNCTAD could play a significant role in the global economic governance of those institutions and help achieve the integration of developing countries in the world economy. Finally, as price volatility and increased speculation caused serious setbacks for commodity-dependent countries, Thailand supported the international formulation of long-term protocols to address the structural problems of commodities trade policies, as well as various initiatives to respond to the impact of excessive price volatility and market uncertainty.
Mr. AL-SADA ( Qatar), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said a non-discriminatory trade system must be put into place to serve as a catalyst to ensure further development. However, the correlation between development and trade was not automatic. Trade should be equitable and concentrated on investment. Reforms that were systemic and removed inequalities between developed and developing countries were also essential. He stressed the importance of removing trade restrictions on agricultural products and of creating greater opportunities for developing countries in the international system. The Doha Round was in serious jeopardy due to a lack of agreement among the negotiating parties, which was regrettable, especially for developing countries with great hopes. It was important to establish tangible goals for the upcoming WTO meeting in Bali that favoured developing countries, solved the many issues that prevented those countries’ products from reaching international markets, and created mechanisms to alleviate developing countries’ debts, thus freeing up funds for development.
GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI ( Iran) said trade was a vital tool for achieving sustainable growth. To realize its potential, it was important to uphold a universal, rules-based, non-discriminatory multilateral trading system. Combinations of macroeconomic, industrial, services, technology and labour market policies were needed to ensure that trade would foster sustainable development. Unilateral coercive economic measures flagrantly violated international law, infringing on the sovereign right to peace and development. He voiced concern with the growing use of such measures, especially sanctions, whose effectiveness was widely disputed. As a victim of economic sanctions, Iran rejected their use, as they jeopardized the legitimacy of the global system and infringed upon peoples’ rights.
ADRIANA PACHECO ( Bolivia) said capitalism was undergoing a crisis. The impact of the financial crisis had affected developing countries and the international community must promote an effective recovery. Bolivia called on developed counties to fulfil their existing assistance commitments and provide at least 0.7 per cent of their GDP to developing countries in the context of ODA. The international financial institutions needed to be reformed, including the Bretton Woods Institutions, while the United Nations system must redefine their relationship with these institutions to promote a financial system that protected the sovereignty of countries. Since 2006, Bolivia had built a new economic system that had moved away from an export based pattern and instead focused on development. That helped reduce poverty and promoted access to services, while depending less on external markets. Bolivia was now able to provide social subsidies to those most in need by redistributing tax revenue through a voucher system, which had helped reduce poverty.
* *** *For information media • not an official record