A new style marked the annual session of the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board (TDB) which ended today (7-18 October). "Style is substance", Mr. Ricupero told the Board earlier during the session. "If we accept to be prisoners of the past, that says something about the way we approach issues", he stated. Delegations appreciated the more informal way of conducting the work of the Board, which also benefited from the participation of the civil society.
In contrast with previously long formal plenary meetings, much of this year´s session of the TDB took the format of informal intergovernmental discussions, with the active participation of intergovernmental and non governmental organizations (NGOs), the labour movement and academics. Examples of this new format were the Global Investment Forum (see TAD/INF/2684 and 2688) and panels on the East Asian development experience (see Notes to correspondents Nos. 21 and 24) and on Africa and the Least Developed Countries (see Note to correspondents No. 23).
In the agreed conclusions (TD/B/43/L.5), adopted today at the closing plenary session, the Board decided to hold consultations under its President, Ambassador Patrick Sinyinza of Zambia, to improve the way the Board addresses the main agenda item on interdependence, drawing on the lessons learned so far.
The Board has requested the UNCTAD secretariat to pursue its work on the development experience of developing countries, drawing on the experience gained in regions other than East Asia, which UNCTAD has lately focused on. Research will include the more successful Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Constraints facing Africa and the LDCs in their development efforts figured high in the Board´s deliberations. The debate was held in Sessional Committee I, chaired by Ambassador Bozorgmehr Ziaran of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Board adopted a set of agreed conclusions (TD/B/43/SC.1/L.4) in which it suggested ways for UNCTAD to fulfil its role in contributing to the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s (UN-NADAF). UNCTAD activities singled out in this respect include: improving trade supporting services; promoting foreign direct investment; support for private sector development; contribution to diversification in commodity-dependent countries; support for debt management; and enhanced technical cooperation. The Board also urged that work on Africa be focused, on specific themes and actions.
Another set of agreed conclusions adopted today (TD/B/43/SC.1/L.2) showed the importance member States attach to the concerns of Least Developed Countries being given particular attention in UNCTAD´s work (see also Note to correspondents No. 27). Special attention was given to the need to help LDCs maximise the potential opportunities and minimize possible risks arising from the Uruguay Round Agreements. The Board stressed the need for longer term assistance to LDCs to overcome supply-side impediments and develop their export capacities through the production of tradeable goods and services on a competitive basis. In this regard, "the Secretary-General of UNCTAD is encouraged to elaborate UNCTAD-wide integrated country-level programmes for selected LDCs by pooling the contributions of the UNCTAD Divisions, in accordance with the priorities identified by the LDCs concerned".
In a further instance of practical support for the LDCs, Mr. Ricupero has been requested to set up as soon as possible the Trust Fund first proposed at UNCTAD IX. Informal indications of support for this Trust Fund came from a wide spectrum of countries. The purpose of the Fund is to make additional resources available for UNCTAD´s technical cooperation activities in favour of the LDCs. Mr. Ricupero aims at a trust fund of about US$5 million.
Finally, Sessional Committee II of the Board, chaired by Markus Kummer (Switzerland), followed-up on the proposal made at UNCTAD IX to finance the participation of experts from developing countries in UNCTAD meetings. After having debated various options, the Board recommended that a trust fund be set up on a trial basis for this purpose. It requested the Secretary-General to start the fund-raising process and the activities of the trust fund as soon as possible. Decisions on participation of developing country experts should be based on the principal of equitable geographical representation and beneficiary needs (see TD/B/43/SC.2/L.4). The United States, while supporting the concept of a trust fund, entered reservations on the text adopted.
Also within Sessional Committee II, the Board undertook a review of UNCTAD´s technical cooperation activities and laid the grounds for a three-year operational plan which will be further discussed in the coming weeks (see TD/B/43/SC.2/L.2). Finally, the Board initiated a process of reviewing UNCTAD´s publication policy with the purpose of increasing the quality and impact of UNCTAD publications and to make the best possible use of existing resources (see TD/B/43/SC.2/L.3).