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A High-Level Meeting on Investment and Development scheduled for 10 October

07 July 1996

At its first formal gathering since UNCTAD IX, the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board today established three subsidiary Commissions in accordance with a decision taken by the Conference and agreed upon the provisional agenda of their first sessions. At this half-day executive session, chaired by Ambassador Jacobs S. Selebi (South Africa), the Board also approved the draft provisional agenda of its annual meeting which will take place from 7-18 October. At this annual meeting, ministers and corporate executives as well as heads of intergovernmental bodies will meet for a one-day informal segment on 10 October to discuss investment and development issues.

The first session of the Commission on Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities, will exceptionally be split into two parts. The first part, scheduled for 6-8 November, will focus on the impact of the Uruguay Round Agreements on development and on ways of enhancing capacities for participation in the multilateral trading system. At the second part, scheduled for 19-21 February, the Commission will analyse progress, and identify outstanding issues, in the integration of trade, environment and development since the Rio Conference. The UNCTAD secretariat has been requested to prepare an analytical paper on environmental aspects of trade. It would cover current environmental matters, particularly as they are related to development. In connection with the work of this Commission, an executive session of the Board is scheduled for the first quarter of 1997 to discuss issues arising in the wake of the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Singapore.

The first session of the Commission on Investment, Technology and related Financial Issues is tentatively scheduled for 18-22 November. Two major topics on its provisional agenda are: interaction between investment and trade and its impact on development; and, issues related to competition law of particular relevance to development. An experts´ meeting will be convened in preparation for the latter item.

Finally, the Commission on Enterprise, Business Facilitation and Development is tentatively scheduled for 20-24 January 1997. It will focus on enterprise development strategy and services infrastructure for development, including a trade efficiency assessment.

It is proposed that the Board´s high-level segment on 10 October be focussed on three topics: trends, determinants and impediments in foreign direct investment (FDI) flows and policy implications; interrelationships between investment, trade and technology; review of existing FDI agreements and analysis of issues relevant to a possible multilateral framework on investment and implications for development.

The Board, in its annual discussions on interdependence, will consider lessons from the East Asian development experience in the context of the rethinking of development strategies. It will also review the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) for the 1990s as well as the role of UNCTAD in the implementation of the United Nations System-wide Special Initiative on Africa.

As a follow-up to UNCTAD IX, the UNCTAD secretariat will prepare an information compendium on UN system-wide organizations, with particular reference to Geneva-based ones, as to how participation of developing country experts is financed in their meetings. This information should help the Board to advance discussions on expert participation at UNCTAD meetings.

The Republic of Slovenia this morning was elected member of the Board, bringing the membership to 144.

Closing remarks

In their general closing statements, all regional groups spoke of the successful outcome of UNCTAD IX and emphasized the importance of speedy and effective implementation of the decisions embodied in the Midrand Declaration and a Partnership for Growth and Development (TD/377). Among others, Patrick Fanning (Ireland), on behalf of the European Union, said that the priority items for the three new Commissions must be geared towards the special needs of developing countries, particularly the LDCs, and be action-oriented. Mr. Petko Baev (Bulgaria) recalled that in accordance with the decisions reached at UNCTAD IX, the concerns of economies-in-transition should be duly taken into account in the work of all Commissions.

Among the specific observations, was the call by Ambassador Shirchinjavyn Yumjav (Mongolia) for the particular problems of land-locked developing countries to be seen in a wide international context and to be addressed in a comprehensive manner. Ambassador Eumelio Caballero Rodríguez (Cuba) stressed the importance that the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries attached to technical assistance provided by the UNCTAD secretariat. He also urged the follow-up to the request for the financing of developing country expert participation in UNCTAD meetings.

Ambassador Shambhu Ram Simkhada (Nepal), stated that the Asian Group had proposed that the high-level segment of the Board in October should deal with "Finance for development", as it felt strongly that the whole issue of resource for the development effort of the developing countries, especially LDCs, of which FDI is but a part, should be discussed. The Group had decided to respect the view of the majority to focus on finance and FDI this year, while maintaining that finance for development should be dealt with at the Trade and Development Board or its relevant Commission next year.

Ambassador Esther Mshai Tolle (Kenya) drew attention to the fact that, notwithstanding a slight recovery in 1995 to around 3%, economic growth in Africa lagged behind population growth to the extent that real incomes had not improved. Issues of particular importance to Africa should be addressed by the Board at its first regular meeting in October. The far-reaching economic reform measures undertaken by most of the African countries had not been matched by increased FDI. This issue was therefore of great interest. Mrs. Tolle added that participating ministers and corporate executives at the High Level meeting must be drawn on the basis of a geographical distribution, representative of the UNCTAD membership.

For more information, please contact:
Carine Richard-Van Maele, UNCTAD Press officer
T: +41 22 907 5816/28
F: +41 22 907 0043
E: amanda.waxman@unctad.org.


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