unctad.org | UNCTAD, jointly with Government of Kazakhstan and Eurasian Economic Club of Scientists, organizes event titled Fifty Years of Development: What Have We Learned?
UNCTAD, jointly with Government of Kazakhstan and Eurasian Economic Club of Scientists, organizes event titled Fifty Years of Development: What Have We Learned?
30 May 2013
At the sixth Astana Economic Forum and first World Anti-Crisis Conference, held on 23-24 May 2013 in Astana, Kazakhstan, UNCTAD and the Government of Kazakhstan, through the Eurasian Economic Club of Scientists, co-organized a lunch event titled Fifty Years of Development: What Have We Learned.


The event was held on 24 May for 60 high-level participants, and was fully attended. It was co-hosted by His Excellency Mr. Kairat Kelimbetov, Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, and Mr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD.

Among the participants were high-level government officials and United Nations representatives, Nobel laureates in economics, and representatives of development banks and the international media. These included Mr. Nikola Gruevski, Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Mr. Romano Prodi, former Prime Minister of Italy and former President of the European Commission; Mr. Néstor Osorio, President of the Economic and Social Council; Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs; Mr. Sergey Glazyev, Advisor to the President of the Russian Federation; Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund; Professors Christopher Pissarides and Finn Kydland, Nobel laureates in economics; Mr. Riz Khan, television host and producer; and Mr. Stefan Grobe of Euronews.

The session featured interventions by Mr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD; Mr. Charles Gore, development expert; and Mr. Joe Studwell, author of the book How Asia Works. Statements are available here.

Opening the panel debate, the moderator, Mr. Gore, underlined the role of global income inequality as one fundamental cause triggering the financial and economic crisis. He emphasized that in 2005, the poorest 40 per cent of the world population accounted for only 4 per cent of world income. By contrast, the richest 1.75 per cent of the world population accounted for 20 per cent of world income - the same proportion as the poorest 77 per cent. He argued that stronger efforts were needed to reduce global income inequality, in particular by reducing development gaps between countries. In these efforts, policymakers could now draw on fifty years of experience, as well as a few examples of countries that had successfully achieved rapid development. He therefore noted that it was time to draw lessons from this experience.

In his address on the theme of the event, Dr. Supachai emphasized the need for humility in view of the major shifts in development thinking that had taken place each decade between the 1960s and 2000s. Nevertheless, he argued that, based on UNCTAD's work, three fundamental ingredients for successful development might be identified. The first was a strategic focus on developing productive capacities, which involved the mobilization of capital, human skills and technological capabilities to create value-added. The second was pragmatic, participatory governance, in which the government played a developmental role engaging with the private sector. The third was a global framework which provided policy space to enable governments to adopt policies that fitted their local reality and responded to crises, as well as providing coherent international cooperation to facilitate development.

Mr. Studwell focused on the experience of the East Asian economies, and said that there was a basic dividing line between the countries that undertook land reform and those that did not. He noted that land reforms were not simply good for output growth in the agricultural sector, but also for equity in income distribution. But the most successful Asian countries did not stop at agriculture, he added. They also had an intensive focus on manufacturing. In promoting manufacturing, governments provided special support but they ensured that through export discipline this did not undermine entrepreneurship and dynamism. Finally, Mr. Studwell said that successful countries had capital controls and channelled capital towards sectoral development objectives.

Drawing conclusions from the experience of the East Asian economies, Mr. Studwell suggested that it was necessary to differentiate between an economics of development and an economics of (allocative) efficiency. It was impossible to understand development success with the former type of economics. Once countries reached a certain level of development, the latter type of economics became the most relevant, and continued use of the former would be detrimental. But conversely, once countries had developed, they "forgot" the past and, counterproductively, gave advice to developing countries on the basis of an economics of efficiency. Both of these fundamental policy errors needed to be avoided.

Speaking on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, the Senate Deputy of the Kazakh Parliament, Mr. Serik Nugerbekov, thanked all speakers and participants for their contributions, and invited everyone to attend the next World Anti-Crisis Conference, to be held in Astana in May 2014.

At the Dialogue of Leaders moderated by Mr. Riz Khan and the press conference that followed, the value added of this event to the discussions at the first World Anti-Crisis Conference was recognized by His Excellency Mr. Muhammed Sulaiman Al Jasser, Minister of Economy and Planning of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in terms of differentiating between an economics of development and an economics of efficiency, and by Professor Christopher Pissarides, Nobel laureate in economics, who stressed the importance of the discussion on income inequality.


 

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