UNCTAD S-G outlines challenges facing developmental states, urges South-South cooperation

03 September 2012

Addressing the Second China-Eurasia Expo yesterday in Urumqi, China, UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi said recent Chinese experience demonstrates how State structures can help "govern the market in ways that limit its destructive impulses and augment its creative energies."

Supachai Panitchpakdi addresses the second China-Eurasia Expo on 2 September 2012

Dr. Supachai contended that a fixation with the culture of the market as the sole arbiter of economic progress and social welfare is unhealthy, and that State institutions have a role to play in forging cooperative action for economic development.

He outlined four main challenges facing developmental States in Asia and developing countries elsewhere:

  • Raising levels of investment, and channelling it productively, to address, among other things, food and energy security, demographic changes, as well as the climate challenge. Doing so will involve collaboration between the public and private sectors, and between foreign and domestic firms.

  • Industrial development: This requires an effective marriage of human capital, technological learning and development finance to support moves into higher value-added activities. These are all areas where market failures are rife, and cooperation across major stakeholders is key to moving in the desired direction.

  • Managing integration: Countries must open up if they are to benefit from trade and capital flows. However, this should be a measured and strategic process that aims to bolster domestic resource mobilization efforts and that guarantees the space to manage the headwinds and downside risks that integration can bring.

  • Ensuring inclusive outcomes: In many countries, the benefits of economic growth have not been widely shared. Economic and social policies need to work in tandem, including redistribution measures, to make sure that inequality does not damage the economic as well as the social fabric on which sustained development depends.

Dr. Supachai also noted that while responsibility for the choice of policies to secure a prosperous, fair and harmonious future remains with national and regional authorities, but in an interdependent world, this cannot be done in isolation. In some instances, relinquishing a degree of national sovereignty to help bolster collective actions is the best way to raise living standards everywhere. Therefore international cooperation, in particular intensification of cooperation among neighbouring countries -- i.e. developmental regionalism and joint management of regional public goods, particularly through South-South cooperation, is critical to maximizing the benefits of an interdependent world, he said.

Premier Wen Jiabao inaugurated the Second China-Eurasia Expo in Urumqi which is being attended by more than 21,000 domestic companies, together with 5,000 buyers as well as national leaders from more than 40 countries and regions.

Among the national leaders participating at the event were:
  • President Atambayev of the Kyrgyz Republic,
  • President Waheed of the Maldives,
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia,
  • Prime Minister Massimov of Kazakhstan,
  • Prime Minister Akilov of Tajikistan,
  • Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan of Turkey,
  • Vice President Karim Khalili of Afghanistan,
  • former Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands, and
  • former Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom.