The Expert Meeting on Financing Commodity-based Trade and Development will be held from 16 to 17 November 2004 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. It will be opened at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 16 November 2004.
Background and purpose of the meeting
This Meeting will focus on the potential role of innovative financing mechanisms in enhancing commodity trade and development, particularly in the agricultural sector. The poverty alleviation aspects of enhancing access to finance will receive special attention. Commodity producers and processors need good access to credit in order to be competitive - for working capital needs and to invest in new farm assets, technology, post-harvest equipment, processing equipment and the like. Traders need good access to credit to optimize their turnover and keep their transaction costs down. In many developing countries and countries with economies in transition, access to credit is now severely constrained, with most banks only willing to lend against certain fixed assets and on unfavourable terms (compared to world market credit terms). This is a serious impediment to development that hampers worldwide efforts to reduce poverty, given that most of the world´s poor are commodity producers. A quiet revolution is, however, taking place, particularly in agricultural lending, similar to what happened with micro-finance in the 1990s. New modes of delivering credit to producers, processors and traders are being tested, with different approaches followed in various countries. Now is the time to mainstream these approaches, and through this Expert Meeting, UNCTAD (which over the past 10 years has developed a rich work programme of analysis, technical assistance and advice on commodity finance) hopes to serve this goal.
The Meeting will serve to provide UNCTAD member States with a better understanding of how innovative thinking can help bring finance to farmers, processors and traders. It will also allow for an exchange of experience between practitioners involved in innovative modes of agricultural credit around the world. Traditional agricultural lending in developing countries has not served the development of the commodity sector well. But these new modes are proving much more successful. This should help overcome the scepticism of local banks and government about lending to the agricultural sector, and help them to define new strategies. Ways and means through which the international community can cooperate with developing countries and contribute to improved lending practices to the agricultural sector in these countries will also be discussed.
The Expert Meeting´s discussions will be based on the secretariat´s background note, country-specific experience papers and sector-specific case studies presented by experts and resource persons. These papers will be made available to the Meeting in the form and language in which they are received.
Member States of UNCTAD are requested to nominate experts at an early date and not later than 18 October 2004. Experts, who will participate in the Meeting in their personal capacities, are expected to have proven expertise in the subject, and may be selected from the banking sector, commodity sector, government or specialized agencies (responsible for the country´s policies and/or programmes on commodity finance), and NGOs.
Specialized agencies and intergovernmental bodies wishing to participate in the Meeting, as well as non-governmental organizations in the General Category and those in the Special Category wishing to participate as observers, are requested to inform the UNCTAD secretariat of the names of their representatives by 18 October 2004.
Funds will be made available to finance the participation of a limited number of officially nominated experts from developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Governments requiring funding are therefore invited to explicitly request financing in their letters of nomination. The Secretary-General of UNCTAD will base the decision as to which experts should receive financing on the principle of equitable geographical representation, beneficiary needs, in particular LDCs, and the expertise of the experts concerned, as well as the type and availability of funding in the Trust Fund for Financing the Participation of Experts at the time. Changes in nominated experts will be considered as new nominations. Nominations with requests for financing should be received no later than eight weeks before the meeting (i.e. by 20 September 2004), and should be accompanied with the following information about the nominee:
- Curriculum vitae;
- Mailing address;
- Telephone and fax number;
- E-mail address; and
- Name of a contact person in the Permanent Mission in Geneva.
It should be noted in this connection that once the list of experts to be financed has been finalized, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD will have all travel arrangements made in accordance with United Nations rules and regulations, though use of the least costly travel fare will be authorized.
Background documents and contributed papers
The provisional agenda for the Meeting, together with the secretariat´s annotations thereto, is being circulated as document TD/B/COM.1/EM.24/1. The UNCTAD secretariat is preparing, as official documentation for the Meeting, an issues note aimed at facilitating the discussions (TD/B/COM.1/EM.24/2). Experts will be asked to prepare notes related to their country´s experience on the subject under discussion. These papers will be made available to the Meeting in the form and language in which they are received.
The Meeting will take place at the United Nations Office of Geneva, Palais des Nations. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in the six official languages of the United Nations.
Upon arrival, participants are requested, before entering the Palais des Nations, to collect their badge at the UN Security Service, Villa Les Feuillantines, 13 Avenue de la Paix (close to the main entrance to the Palais on the Place des Nations, on the opposite side of the road). The Security Service is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (non-stop). Due to the existing security measures in force, participants are strongly advised to arrive before 8.30 a.m. in order to complete procedures and reach the Meeting in good time. Walking from Villa Les Feuillantines to the E-Building (Bâtiment E) of the Palais takes about 10 minutes. Participants are requested to carry a passport or similar national identity card with them. There is a general interdiction on the entry of taxis to the grounds of the Palais des Nations, and visitors will be dropped off at the requested entrance gates. Further, luggage is not authorized inside the buildings unless the Security Service grants special clearance.
Further information and contact details
Links to information and details can be accessed at: www.unctad.org.
Nominations and related communications concerning representation at the Meeting should be sent to the UNCTAD secretariat, Intergovernmental Affairs and Outreach Service, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10; fax: + 41(0)22 917 0056;
Substantive and other enquiries should be addressed to Mr. Lamon Rutten, coordinator of the Expert Meeting in the substantive division (Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities), office E-9026, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, tel.: +41(0)22 917 5770, fax: +41 22 917 0509, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
or to Ms. Frida Youssef, Office E-9033, tel.: +41 (0)22 917 5022, fax: +41 22 917 0509, e-mail: email@example.com.
Secretary-General of UNCTAD
27 August 2004