UNCTAD and the ILO are jointly organizing a workshop on "Growth, Productive Transformation and Employment: New Perspectives on the Industrial Policy Debate." The workshop will be held in Geneva from 16 to 17 February, 2012 at the ILO offices to discuss some of the issues that will be addressed at the UNCTAD XIII Conference, to be held in Doha, Qatar, from 21 to 26 April 2012.
Given the highly fragile recovery in the advanced countries since the financial crisis of 2008 and worries about the sustainability of the post-2000 growth experience in the South, the search is on for new growth strategies which can connect structural transformation, job creation and rising social welfare. After a period on the fringes of policy discussions, industrial policy has become a prominent part of the search for those alternative strategies. This conference will address the state of industrial policy in the OECD and developing economies, sorting out myth from reality and identifying economic and institutional challenges in the aftermath of the recent global financial crisis.
Despite diverse and varied local effects, globally, the increasingly prominent role of financial markets (financialization) has by and large failed to improve resource mobilization or encourage the kind of structural transformation needed to provide the jobs of tomorrow. Industrialization remains an essential challenge for many developing countries; industry is required to pull unemployed masses out of subsistence production such as agriculture, retail services and other activities with very low productivity and incomes; and for countries in the middle, continued development and diversification is needed to stave off the middle-income trap associated with narrowly based export-dependent growth. But a robust industrial sector is still important for many advanced economies if they are to remain competitive and to meet changing consumer needs and tastes.
There has in recent years been a tendency to restrict industrial policy measures through multilateral, regional or bilateral agreements. The workshop contributors will present recent research that highlights how the state and private sectors can work together to promote diversification and benefit from trade by offering new perspectives on value chain production, technological upgrading and the role of education and skills. The workshop findings will be presented at UNCTAD XIII in Doha and a volume of the proceedings will follow later in the year.