unctad.org | 2017 in Review: April to June
2017 in Review: April to June
03 January 2018
The year 2017 was a busy one for UNCTAD as the implementation of the previous year’s Nairobi Maafikiano picked up pace. Here is a glimpse of just some of the things UNCTAD got up to during the second quarter of 2017.​
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APRIL

The first Middle East and North Africa regional training center for consumer protection was officially opened in Beirut, on 5 April, by UNCTAD in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and Trade of Lebanon.

A highlight of April was the third UNCTAD E-Commerce Week: Toward Inclusive E-Commerce, featuring more than 30 events organized by UNCTAD and 30 partners. More than 900 attendees from 99 countries attended and spoke, with representatives from eBay, Etsy, FedEx, Jumia, Huawei, Kapruka, PayPal, Ringier, TCS Holdings, Vodafone, and other e-commerce businesses engaging with government officials and civil society delegates.

A major theme of the event included the need for developing countries to put policies in place that will allow e-commerce to flourish in their economies. To meet this need, UNCTAD, in partnership with governments, offers Rapid eTrade Readiness Assessments: among the first such assessments, presented during E-Commerce Week, were those of Bhutan and Cambodia.

 

Also in the spotlight was a recognition that successful e-commerce requires the trust and confidence of the consumer, which in turn entails robust regulations and systems. A global survey, released during E-Commerce Week, revealed that Internet users were increasingly concerned about their online privacy, and that 49% of users polled say lack of trust is their main reason for not shopping online.

 

"The survey confirms the importance of having adequate consumer protection and data protection in place, areas where many developing countries are lagging behind," Shamika N. Sirimanne, Director of UNCTAD’s Division on Technology and Logistics, said. “More capacity-building is therefore urgently needed.”

Meanwhile, the Friends of E-commerce for Development (FED) group met for the first time during E-commerce Week and agreed to develop a comprehensive, long-term digital trade policy agenda, while the UNCTAD Youth Network launched an online youth entrepreneurship campaign aiming to raise awareness on youth empowerment in the digital economy using the Twitter hashtag #e4youth.

“E-commerce Week has demonstrated beyond a doubt how the convening power of the United Nations and smart partnerships can bring out a shared sense of purpose, engagement and results,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said at the conclusion of the week.

“We all look to the future, firm in our conviction that together we will impact how e-commerce works for inclusive prosperity."

MAY

At the start of May, a new UNCTAD study said that the impact of Israeli security, military, political and economic measures in the the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, had since 1967 created a huge resource gap. The study, The Occupied Palestinian Territory: Twin-Deficits or an Imposed Resource Gap?, maintained that this gap shows itself in three macroeconomic imbalances: a trade deficit, a government budget deficit and a national investment-saving deficit.

Later in the month, the Commission on Science and Technology for Development met in full session with countries reaffirming its role as the UN torch-bearer for science, technology and innovation for development. During five days of discussions, countries called for deeper international cooperation to achieve zero hunger by 2030, extend the benefits and beneficiaries of science and technology, and build capacity at the national and global levels to make progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Reviews of the science, technology and innovation policies of Iran and Rwanda were presented to the Commission as part of UNCTAD’s ongoing work to help developing countries harness science, technology and innovation for better socio-economic outcomes.

Technology for food security 

Also in May, the government of Ghana, in partnership with UNCTAD and others, held a conference on putting in to practice the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

On 12 May Steve MacFeely, head of UNCTAD’s statistics and information branch, gave the keynote speech at the Data Science for an Open Government Conference held at the Porto Business School, Portugal.

Toward the end of the month, the report of the Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development: Progress and Prospects was launched, drawing on expertise, analysis and data from over 50 international institutions, including the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization, as well as UN agencies such as UNCTAD and UNDP.

JUNE

At the East-African Organic Policy Forum from 1–7 June, UNCTAD presented two studies, on the financing of organic farming in Africa, and on the link between sustainable agriculture and tourism in Tanzania.

Meanwhile on 4 June, Equatorial Guinea became the fourth country to leave the least developed countries group since the category was established in 1971 and the first to do so since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. With an oil-propelled gross national income per capita of $16,089, six times above the "income-only" graduation threshold of $2,484, Equatorial Guinea became the first least developed country to graduate thanks to a rapidly-growing national income. The number of least developed countries now stands at 47.

At the first-ever UN Oceans Conference on 5–7 June, UNCTAD continued its high-profile advocacy for urgent action on subsidies and other instruments that damage fisheries, threatening their utility as a sustainable source of food, income and employment.

"Developing countries can protect millions of jobs by ending harmful fish subsidies, it's our job in the international community to help facilitate this much-needed change,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said, hailing a vital series of events that put the issue at the top of the meeting’s agenda. 

Meanwhile, at the request of the African Union, UNCTAD took part in the Sixth Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum from 5–16 June in Niamey, Niger, to provide technical support to African countries as they work to bring down barriers to intra-African trade.

Overfishing 

On 7 June, the release of UNCTAD’s highly anticipated World Investment Report put the spotlight on the digital economy, and the degree to which digital infrastructure is permeating the global economy and changing cross-border investment patterns.

Later in June, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Isabelle Durant of Belgium as the new Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD, succeeding Joakim Reiter of Sweden.

"I warmly welcome Ms. Durant as the first woman Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD in its 52 years of existence,” Dr. Kituyi said at the start of July when Ms. Durant took office.

In mid-June, UNCTAD received $1.2 million from the European Union to strengthen consumer rights and competition oversight in the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa.


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