In the face of the continuing “fragility” of the global economy following recent economic crises, Member States called today for financial flows oriented towards supporting inclusive and sustainable development as the Thirteenth Ministerial Meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIII) closed in Doha, Qatar.
“Finance should support the real economy [towards] sustainable, sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth and sustainable development”, according to the “Doha Mandate”, adopted at the conclusion of the Meeting, which was began on 21 April and represented the first major United Nations ministerial gathering focused on trade and development since the 2008-2009 economic and financial crisis.
The Mandate sets out agreed conclusions on policy analysis and the role of UNCTAD on the overall theme of the Meeting — “Development-centred globalization: towards inclusive and sustainable growth and development”, covering key priorities considered over the past week. They included enhancing and enabling the economic environment to support inclusive development; strengthening all forms of cooperation and partnership for trade and development; addressing persistent and emerging development challenges and their implications for trade and development; and promoting trade, investment, entrepreneurship and related investment policies to foster economic growth and sustainable development.
Accompanying the Mandate was a political declaration to be known as the “Doha Manar”, referring to the Arabic term for beacon, which lent strong support to the efforts of UNCTAD in promoting inclusive development through commerce and structural change for over the next four years. “We recognize the need to make our common economic life more conducive to progressive structural change, more productive of inclusive and sustainable growth and development and more effective in fostering broad-based inclusion in a new and more robust social contract,” the Manar states. At the same time, it acknowledges the need to strengthen UNCTAD and the impact of its work by enhancing its efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, accountability and partnerships.
The Manar also recognizes the economic significance of the revolutionary protests occurring over the past year. “The winds of change blowing in many parts of the world today attest to the desire of populations for responsive policies that foster participatory and inclusive approaches to development towards achieving prosperity for all,” it said.
According to the Mandate, the more substantive of the two texts adopted today, Member States noted that the global financial crisis had struck in 2008 shortly after UNCTAD XII, and that its effects had spread very rapidly and widely. It had not spared the world’s poorest countries, and despite the policy efforts of both developed and developing countries, the global economic recovery remained fragile. Its ripple effects had impacted, among other things, efforts to ensure food security, combat climate change and stabilize energy and other commodity prices.
“Development-centred globalization sets the stage for inclusive growth and development and contributes towards reducing poverty and creating jobs,” the Mandate states, adding that development strategies should be inclusive and designed to meet human needs. In addition, the role of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development targets were still instrumental to achieving those needs by 2015. “People have similar needs and aspirations, including freedom, human rights, in particular the right to development, decent work [and] all aspects of affordable health care and good governance at all levels.” Since those ends were closely interconnected, development strategies should be based on an integrated and holistic approach, if the desired policy options were to emerge.
As for the role of UNCTAD in achieving development-centred globalization, the organization remained the United Nations focal point for the integrated treatment of trade and development, as well as related issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development. UNCTAD should, through the three pillars of its mandate — consensus-building, policy-oriented analysis and technical cooperation — continue to deliver meaningful results, within available resources, while enhancing synergies and promoting collaboration with the efforts of other international organizations, according to the Mandate.
Specifically, it should contribute to global efforts to transition towards a green economy; continue to monitor and assess the evolution of the international trading system and its trends from a development perspective; and continue to support the specific needs of least developed countries, small island developing States, middle-income countries and those with economies in transition.
“For trade to serve as an engine of inclusive growth and development, the multilateral trading system must remain open, transparent, inclusive, non-discriminatory and rules-based,” the Mandate states, adding that the effective integration of developing countries, in particular least developed countries and transition economies, into the multilateral trading system should remain a priority. Further, the successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda negotiations was crucial to the creation of new trade flows that would generate economic growth and development.
The Mandate stresses that, in a time of fragile economic recovery, trade protectionism remained a risk, and efforts to fight all forms of protectionism should continue. States were strongly urged to refrain from promulgating and applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures hindering market access, investment and freedom of transit. Meaningful trade liberalization would also require addressing non-tariff measures and aim to reduce and eliminate other arbitrary or unjustified trade barriers.
Emphasizing that there was no “universal blueprint” for crafting policies and actions to address the myriad impacts of the crisis, the Mandate says such measures tailored to local capacities and capabilities, conditions and needs. Noting that accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was an integral part of the development strategies of most countries aiming to benefit fully from the international trading system, UNCTAD should provide countries — developing, least developed and transition economies in particular — with technical assistance and capacity-building before, during and in the follow-up to the accession process.
The Conference should also continue its work on commodities so as to help those countries achieve strengthened and more sustainable agricultural production, food security and export capacity. “This work should also take into account the needs of small-scale farmers, as well as the empowerment of women and youth,” the Mandate states. Stakeholders were strongly encouraged to promote foreign direct investment (FDI) in such a way as to complement the development priorities of host countries. The Doha Mandate underscores the importance of enhancing the development impact of investment, including by strengthening productive sectors and contributing to job creation. UNCTAD was encouraged to continue its relevant work on investment policy review and enterprise development, as well as research and policy dialogue on the impact of FDI and other private international capital flows.
Following the Mandate’s adoption by the Committee of the Whole, UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi thanked participants for embracing the organization’s “capacious mandate and ambitious programme of work”, and for working intensively to chart the way forward for the next four-year period until its next ministerial meeting.
Describing the outcome as a significant achievement, considering the differences that had to be bridged, he likened the outcome to a newborn child with all the complexities involved — “conflicted, complicated, at times deeply uncertain, but it has very good genes in its 194 parents”. He pledged to guide fulfilment of the Mandate with accountability, candour, prudence and persistence, noting that, in the difficult economic climate, Member States expected greater efforts from the United Nations in the area of economics, making UNCTAD the Organization’s only unit charged with the relationship between trade and sustainable development.
UNCTAD was now consulted on issues ranging from relations with the Group of 20 (G-20) countries and commodity price volatility to the shift to a green economy and the mainstreaming of gender in development, he continued. In the wake of the financial crisis, it had increasingly provided advice on monetary policy, banking systems as drivers of development, and the generation of employment by small and medium-sized enterprises, in addition to the United Nations focal point on all trade issues, commodities and technology relating to development. To handle such a wide portfolio, he looked forward to further building partnerships. “Yes, debates have been motivated by national interest, but you have all agreed to build on UNCTAD’s ambitious scope of work,” he said.
Closing Plenary Statements
Mr. Supachai said the “long and rocky road” had made it seem uncertain that delegations would reach the desired outcomes together. “This has been a process, and this is an outcome that strengthens UNCTAD,” he said, recalling the organization’s “proud history and role within the United Nations system. Yet, with all the changes that had taken place in the international economic environment over the past nearly 50 years, UNCTAD had been forced to weigh sometimes painful questions about its activities and working methods. The Doha Mandate had reaffirmed UNCTAD’s place as the focal point for discussions on trade and development and its role as a forum for all Member States to “discuss and indeed fulminate” on vital issues.
That was important because, in the wake of the economic crisis and its ongoing fallout, the challenges ahead could not be overestimated, including those posed by financial uncertainty and a warming planet, he continued. Indeed, multilateralism was sure to be tested in the coming months as Member States sought to reach agreement at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, (“Rio+20”), close the Doha Development Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) talks, and set the international development agenda beyond the 2015 deadline for attaining Millennium Development Goals.
The discussions of the past week had thrown a much-needed spotlight on those issues, he said, noting that the Doha Mandate and Manar would be useful in pointing the way forward, he said.
Hamad bin Abudlaziz al-Kuwari (Qatar), incoming President of UNCTAD and Minister for Culture, Arts and Heritage, said the Meeting had been destined to succeed, and expressed hope that its outcome would contribute to fulfilling the aspirations of peoples around the world. The fruits of its labours, presented in both the Mandate and Manar documents, truly captured those aspirations for a brighter future. “When the spirit is willing, and when there is will to act, nothing is impossible,” he stressed, adding that such a spirit had led to the consensus seen today.
The agreements made clear two important points, he continued. First, UNCTAD truly was a consensus-building body, and second, the Meeting would matter even more in the days ahead, as it worked to make development inclusive, sustainable and beneficial for all. Indeed, the documents spoke for themselves; their success was particularly critical at a time of great social and economic challenges. While they had been able to sow the seeds of a “new globalization”, it remained for all parties to follow up on their commitments at all levels. The UNCTAD that had emerged from Doha was an UNCTAD “removed from the ivory tower and into the field of hope”, he stressed, adding that Qatar would take seriously its presidency of the Conference.
Also making statements were representatives of Algeria, Zimbabwe (on behalf of the African Group), Indonesia (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Iran (on behalf of the Asian Group), Nepal (on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries), China, Switzerland (also on behalf of Japan, United States, Canada and New Zealand), Qatar (as host country) and the European Union.
As the closing plenary got under way, Alfredo Suescum (Panama), Chairman of the Credentials Committee, presented its final report (document TD/475) to the Meeting.
Anthony Mothae Maruping (Lesotho), Chairman of the Committee of the Whole, presented that body’s report, including the draft Doha Mandate (document TD/L.427). As that outcome was not available in all languages, he read out several corrections to the text. The Meeting also took note of several reports of the Trade and Development Board (document TD/460).
It then adopted its final report, including its annexes relevant to the work of the Meeting (document TD/L.419), which was introduced by Rapporteur Väino Reinart (Estonia).
The representative of Panama read out, on behalf of UNCTAD, an official expression of deep gratitude to the Government and people of Qatar for their invitation to host the Thirteenth Ministerial Meeting (document TD/476).
Closing Committee Statements
Earlier, the Committee of the Whole heard statements by representatives of regional and other groups, as well as the observer for Palestine.
The representative of Thailand, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the successful consensus would not have been possible without the flexibility demonstrated by all sides. For the Group, the most important issues in drafting the text had been reaffirming and building upon the Accra Accord, and that had been achieved. “UNCTAD now has a clear road map to conduct its work over the next four years,” he said. The need for an integrated approach to its work, which was enshrined in the document, was even more necessary today than it had been in 2008, and although the negotiations had at times been tough, the census reached laid the foundation for continued good will and cooperation.
The representative of Zimbabwe, speaking on behalf of the Group of African States, associated himself with the Group of 77 and China, said: “The road to Doha was long and at times strewn with challenges.” Nonetheless, consensus had been reached. “Of course, we could have done more, but such is the nature of the give-and-take process.” Indeed, UNCTAD’s unity and solidarity remained its greatest strength.
The representative of Iran, speaking on behalf of the Group of Asian States, also associated himself with the Group of 77 and China, saying the outcome document was a clear manifestation of global partnership and of the Conference’s commitment to global development. While many thought that such an outcome would not be reached, the Asian Group had remained committed to its belief that it would be achieved and, in the end, it had been proven right. The agreement paved the way for strengthening UNCTAD and its three pillars. It built upon the Accra Accord, particularly by exploring ways and means to confront the emerging challenges facing developing countries. He urged all parties to work hard over the next four years in order to “harness the achievements of our successful outcome”.
The representative of El Salvador, speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, said intensive and long negotiations had led to the adoption of a document that bolstered support for the Accra Accord. UNCTAD XIII had proved that countries could come together and examine ways to address common challenges. The Meeting had also made clear that UNCTAD had a key role to play with other international organizations in examining and providing analysis and technical assistance to help address all the aspects of the global economic and financial crisis.
The representative of Nepal, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the Meeting had reached consensus after nearly four months of hectic negotiations that had begun in Geneva and continued in Doha. The outcome reaffirmed the principle that multilateral negotiations could lead to meaningful conclusions and recommendations, as well as the importance of the work being carried out by UNCTAD.
The representative of Paraguay, speaking on behalf of landlocked developing countries, said UNCTAD must continue to support those nations and the Doha Mandate would help her delegation begin to effectively address the impacts of the crisis.
The representative of the European Union delegation said the Union had tried to play an active part, working with all groups. The Doha Mandate was a real global partnership for development that would provide a road map for UNCTAD’s work over the next four years. And while the document was a compromise, all delegations could be comfortable with what had been achieved. The European Union had always supported UNCTAD’s efforts, and the organization should remain the United Nations focal point for the integrated discussion on trade and development issues. It would like to see the Conference increase the efficiency and impact of its work and was willing to work with it, as well as Member States, towards that common objective. “I think the balanced agreement we have reached reflects broadly the priorities of the members of the organization.”
The representative of Switzerland, speaking on behalf of Japan, United States, Australia and New Zealand (JUSCANZ), said the document was “yet another positive affirmation that 13 brings luck”. Despite the difficulties encountered “nobody gave up” and all delegations had been able to overcome their differences. The outcome was of the utmost importance as it reaffirmed the importance of multilateralism, and provided UNCTAD with a “streamlined” agenda over the next four years. JUSCANZ looked forward to an organization that was effective and efficient, he said, wishing the Conference great success “because everyone benefits when UNCTAD does good work”.
The representative of Hungary, speaking on behalf of negotiating Group D, said the Doha Mandate would give further momentum to the work of UNCTAD and help the efforts of developing and transition countries to address current and emerging challenges in the wake of the global economic and financial crisis.
The representative of China said a spirit of cooperation and partnership had prevailed over doubts and concerns. The success of the negotiations had shown the world that the international community was committed to the discourse on sustainable development and inclusive growth, particularly in developing countries and with a strong focus on least developed countries and Africa.
The representative of Algeria said it was an example to follow, even though there had been substantial disagreements. All parties had affirmed that UNCTAD was more than ever before a fundamental organization of the United Nations, and The Conference was leaving Doha stronger than when it had arrived.
The observer for Palestine, associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that, in spite of all the major obstacles, the agreement reached today expressed the unity between rich and poor States, developed and developing countries.
A representative of civil society said that “you judge a society by how it treats its weaker members”. Therefore, those who attempted to detract from UNCTAD were detracting from the world’s weakest. With respect to the role of the Conference in dealing with the global financial and economic crisis, civil society would have preferred the text to include more language about analysing its root causes. Nonetheless, the outcome document empowered UNCTAD to continue to address that matter, he added.
UNCTAD XIII was the first major United Nations ministerial gathering focusing exclusively on trade and development since the fallout from the 2008-2009 economic and financial crisis. It addressed issues of inclusive development, green economy and climate change, debt and financial and monetary reform; science and technology and the next era of globalization. The Meeting, convened for the first time in an Arab country, was addressed by economy, finance and trade ministers. In conjunction with the Meeting, UNCTAD held its second annual World Investment Forum in Doha from 21 to 23 April.
Besides daily plenary sessions in which Government delegates presented their views on development-centred globalization, the bulk of the Meeting’s work was built around a series of panel discussions and round tables on such vital themes as enhancing the global trade environment; trade and poverty reduction; and the future international agenda on non-tariff measures. Monday, 23 April saw a special high-level event on “Women in Development”. Later in the week, it heard a progress report on the work of the G-20 major advanced and emerging economies by that forum’s Mexican presidency. It also held a high-level event on implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action on the Least Developed Countries (2011-2020).