The UNCTAD Trade and Development Board (141 member States elected) will meet from 7 to 18 October to address the key issue of foreign direct investment (FDI) and development, and draw lessons from the successful industrialization in East Asia. This being the first regular session since UNCTAD IX, held in May, the Board will also follow-up on a number of initiatives launched in Midrand.
On behalf of the African Group, Ambassador Patrick Sinyinza of Zambia is expected to be elected President of the Board, based on preparatory consultations held in September. The outgoing President is Ambassador William Rossier of Switzerland. Ambassador Sinyinza, assisted by a Rapporteur and ten Vice-Presidents from different regions, will hold this important post for the next twelve months, expected to be decisive for the new UNCTAD.
Main topics on the agenda
A major task for the Board is to seek to enhance the contribution of FDI to development. A major event will be the UNCTAD "Global Investment Forum" on 10 October, which will bring together businessmen and policy-makers concerned with FDI questions ahead of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Singapore in December (see TAD/INF/PR/9624). The Forum will be chaired by Alexander Erwin, Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa and President of UNCTAD IX. The discussion in plenary sessions of the Board will provide government representatives with an opportunity to comment on the World Investment Report, 1996, released on 25 September.
"Rethinking development strategies; some lessons from the East Asian development experience". This is the theme of this year´s discussion of the Board in plenary session under its traditional agenda item on interdependence. What is the role of exports and foreign investment in the successful growth and industrialization of East Asia? What is the scope for pursuing export-oriented policies by other developing countries in the current economic environment? These are the kind of questions to be addressed. They are covered also in the UNCTAD Trade and Development Report 1996, released on 19 September.
Other substantive agenda items will be dealt with within two Sessional Committees. Sessional Committee I will review the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) for the 1990s, and in particular the international support measures called for by the high-level intergovernmental meeting which was held in New York in 1995 on a mid-term global review. The Committee will also examine, on the basis of a report prepared by the UNCTAD secretariat (TD/B/42(1)/11/Add.1), how LDCs that are members of the World Trade Organization (26 out of 48) can take maximum advantage of the special and differential measures provided for in the Uruguay Round Agreements.
Sessional Committee I will also examine UNCTAD´s contribution to two major United Nations initiatives for Africa: the UN New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s (UN-NADAF), and the UN System-wide Special Initiative on Africa. The UNCTAD secretariat has prepared a progress report on this topic (TD/B/43/6).
Sessional Committee II will undertake a comprehensive review of the current situation and future prospects for UNCTAD´s technical cooperation. A report prepared by the UNCTAD secretariat (TD/B/43/7/Corr.1) indicates that extra-budgetary resources for technical cooperation reached a record level of $22 million in 1995. A statistical annex to the report (TD/B/43/7/Add.1) provides details on the projects and their funding. The initiative launched at UNCTAD IX of establishing a Trust Fund for LDCs so as to provide extra-budgetary resources for the enhancement of secretariat projects will also be further explored.
In addition, Sessional Committee II of the Board will address the question of financing of the participation of developing countries´ experts in UNCTAD meetings.