UNCTAD Annual Report 2019
The world stands at a crossroads. In 2019, we saw multilateralism come under increasing pressure from tensions over trade and technology and a fragmented political landscape. Our quest for inclusive prosperity remained hobbled by rising inequality and ever louder voices of protectionism, which continued to dominate national and international discourse.
Over the past year, the nexus between trade and the environment took centre stage as we grappled with how trade can be part of the solution to the relentless climate crisis. The challenges and opportunities of digitalization for development came into sharper focus as the extent of growing digital divides and new digital pathways for structural transformation became more widely acknowledged.
Despite the fraught context, UNCTAD continued to support developing countries to step up efforts to tackle poverty and extend the ladder of opportunity to the millions who remain far behind economically. We continued facilitating trade through mechanisms such as the African Continental Free Trade Area, under which trading begins in July 2020, creating the world’s largest free trade area.
UNCTAD stepped up crucial efforts in helping countries to attract investment in the Sustainable Development Goals, while advising governments on the implications of a changing climate on trade and development. We also worked with countries to design policies to enhance their productive capacities and tap into the opportunities offered by e-commerce and new technologies.
As we embark on the road to Barbados, host of the 15th ministerial conference of UNCTAD, we see hope in the strong commitment by member States to maximize the potential of trade in addressing the development challenges of our time. It is our conviction that UNCTAD 15 will play a pivotal role in aligning support to the economic dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, helping kick off a “decade of action” to accelerate achievement of sustainable development.
UNCTAD will continue catalysing change as we race to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. We count on the support of all.
Secretary-General of UNCTAD