UNCTAD is fortunate to have the celebration of its fortieth anniversary coincide with its eleventh quadrennial conference, to be held in São Paulo, Brazil, this June. The two events can complement one another, providing renewed impetus to our work.
In the 40 years since UNCTAD was founded, the international environment has been radically transformed by globalization, and the problems experienced by developing countries today require innovative approaches. UNCTAD XI offers the opportunity to address those problems and define the type of national and multilateral measures needed to ensure that integration into the world economy yields real development gains for developing countries. Open trade regimes and financial markets alone are not enough.
The fact is that in many developing countries, conventional, market based policies have not lived up to expectations in terms of promoting sustainable development and poverty reduction. An impressive trade performance in Latin America, for example, has failed to offset the impact of six years of negative per capita growth, and there are 20 million more poor people today than in 1997. Latin America is thus a very appropriate venue for UNCTAD XI, which will explore how to harness the power of trade for development and poverty reduction. Much-needed attention will also be given to the relationship between trade and gender issues and to the potential that lies in the development of creative industries in developing countries.
The conference will in addition look at how to improve the supply capacity of developing countries. Even in those few areas where developing countries have acquired meaningful market access through global trade negotiations, in many cases they cannot take advantage of it because of domestic supply constraints and bottlenecks or because of their dependence on volatile commodity markets. Locally tailored strategies are needed to overcome these shortcomings, as is policy flexibility on international trade rules. Finally, there is a need to strengthen the coherence between national development strategies and global economic processes, so as to ensure gains from trade. Forging the link between trade and development is the central mission of UNCTAD XI.
Secretary-General of UNCTAD
Geneva, April 2004
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