UNCTAD Annual Report 2018
In the face of gathering clouds over the world economy and mounting tensions around multilateralism, UNCTAD worked diligently in 2018 to support the gainful integration of developing countries into the world economy. In a year fraught with signs of a popular backlash against globalization and declining trust in the multilateral trading system, UNCTAD faced both new opportunities as well as new challenges.
In 2018, UNCTAD accompanied African nations as they signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to usher in a new age of decisive, pan- African policymaking on trade and development. We have also seen increased demand for UNCTAD support as many countries in 2018 turned to new sources of economic dynamism from renewed South-South links, such as through China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
At the same time, in 2018 we began adopting new ways of working with agreement at the General Assembly on the reform of the United Nations Development System. Putting our intellectual leadership to work on the ground, at the service of the wider United Nations family, has now become a central objective of our work.
These new opportunities and challenges require new thinking and renewed intellectual leadership and 2019 will be a make or break year for trade and development in many respects. It will mark the first high-level political forum under the auspices of the General Assembly, and we only have one year left until the “early harvest” targets of the Sustainable Development Goals come due in 2020. These notably include targets at the heart of UNCTAD’s work programme, such as ending harmful fisheries subsidies and doubling the least developed countries’ share of world exports. In 2019 we will also begin preparations for UNCTAD’s 15th ministerial conference, which will be held in 2020.
As the results documented in this 2018 Annual Report demonstrate, when we are faced with an increasingly fragmented trade and development landscape, we must maintain fidelity to our integrated approach and make good on our founding promise to promote prosperity for all. Going forward we will continue to accomplish this through renewing our intellectual leadership, increasing our transformative impact, and further leveraging our convening power on trade and development issues, within the context of an increasingly coherent development pillar within the UN.
Secretary-General of UNCTAD