Dear Participants of the 15th annual Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) Conference,
This conference happens at a very important time for all of us. The economic crisis, the sluggish and uneven recovery, and the unclear prospects for the world economy have highlighted the importance of coordinated multilateral policy responses. In this regard, the current economic situation poses difficult challenges which we discussed during UNCTAD's Ministerial conference in Doha last April (UNCTAD XIII). Indeed, the theme of UNCTAD XIII, "Development-centred globalization", focused on the policies and measures needed to restore growth, and to make future growth more inclusive and sustainable. I am happy to see that many of the issues that we discussed in Doha are also among prominent topics in your conference.
I also welcome this conference because of its focus on sound and policy oriented research. As the problems of the world economy have become more and more complex, so has our job to provide answers and effective policy responses. Moreover, it is evident that the economic turmoil we have been witnessing has brought about a paradigm shift in development economics. There is a need to rethink trade and development policies so as to make them aligned to the ultimate objective to bring about sustainable development for all. Good policies require innovative ideas and sound analysis. We need such new thinking now more than ever.
At UNCTAD, we share many of the objectives of other members of the Global Trade Analysis network. In particular, research and analysis is essential for designing better policies for trade and development. Indeed, one of the three key pillars of UNCTAD is research and analysis. The new mandate UNCTAD just received by its member States calls for further strengthening this pillar. This is something that I support strongly.
UNCTAD has been a board member of the GTAP consortium for many years. I greatly value being part of such a distinguished partnership, as it allows our organization to share ideas, compare and complement them with those of other research institutions and organizations. Only through such cooperative research and analysis will we be able to identify and support effective policies for development.
Researchers at UNCTAD have also benefited from the analytical tools provided by the GTAP. We have been making extensive use of GTAP tools, for example, in studies related to Africa's development and trade negotiations, as well as in the analysis of trade and employment, particularly in one of our flagship publications, the Trade and Development Report.
UNCTAD very much shares the comprehensive nature of the GTAP approach. This is important for us, as our broad mandate requires us to look into different aspects of the globalization process. UNCTAD is the focal point in the United Nations for the integrated treatment of trade and development, and interrelated issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development.
We will continue to be an active member of the network and very much welcome the expansion of the GTAP analytical tools, especially those that are relevant to essential parts of UNCTAD's research and analysis, for example, on the impact of climate change and non-tariff measures on trade and development. Indeed, one session that we jointly organize with the WTO and ITC is on the very topic of non-tariff measures. Still, there are many other interesting sessions in the programme that are at the heart of our work and I am confident that your conference will provide some new analytical insights on many of the challenges related to trade and development.
Last, but not least, I would like to thank our colleagues at the WTO and ITC and the staff at UNCTAD for the excellent work in organizing this conference.
I wish you a successful outcome.