THE 12th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XII) ended in Accra last Friday with delegates of member countries pledging themselves to “uphold a well-functioning, universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system which promotes growth.”
In an 18-point Accra Declaration, the 192 delegates and participants pledged to adhere to the founding tenets of UNCTAD and to work harmoniously in an interdependent world for broad-based and sustainable prosperity.
Delegates and participants adopted two other documents, the Accra Accord, a detailed 221-point submission on current trade and development issues and policy interventions and the draft Report on UNCTAD XII.
In the Accra Declaration, which summarises key points of the conference, delegates commended UNCTAD for the integrated treatment of trade and development and inter-related issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development.
Delegates lauded UNCTAD for its “substantial contribution to advancing the development agenda and supporting developing countries to address challenges and maximise benefits from the globalised world economy,” and recommitted themselves to this agenda.
They noted that the outcome of the conference would be an important contribution to the equitable and inclusive access to the benefits of globalisation arising from trade, finance, investment, technology and innovation, and full and productive employment.
Apart from that, it would also inform forthcoming major events on development, including the Development Cooperation Forum of the Economic and Social Council, the Accra High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, the high-level event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) during the 62nd session of the General Assembly and the Financing for Development Review Conference, they said.
On the attainment of the MDGs, delegates noted that at the mid-point of attaining these goals, some regions were not on track to achieve all targets.
They said sub-Saharan Africa was the area facing the most severe shortfalls in the attainment of the targets and current challenges such as rising food and energy prices and global uncertainties, compounded by climate change, had the potential to de-accelerate global efforts and developing countries’ growth, poverty reduction gains and pose a direct risk to the poor.
However, delegates resolved to remain vigilant to ensure that global economic policies and the work of UNCTAD promoted an inclusive growth that would help countries to attain and sustain the internationally agreed development goals.
Pledging to find integrated solutions to the challenges, they said, they would redouble their efforts to combat poverty and hunger and take immediate steps to bolster the world’s food security by meeting urgent humanitarian needs in developing countries, particularly least developed ones, and paying special attention to the nutritional needs of mothers and children.
Delegates also pledged that in the medium to long term, support would be given to national efforts towards increased food production, particularly in Africa, least developed countries, as well as net food importing countries.
To support this, there was the need for collaboration, reform and liberalisation of trade in agriculture and improved official development assistance flows to the agricultural sectors of developing countries.
They welcomed the decision of the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, to establish a high-powered task force comprising eminent experts and leading policy authorities to address the food security issue.
Delegates said the development of Africa and least developed countries would remain a priority of the international community.
While commending the efforts of these countries to scale up their development performance, they further encouraged them and said the international community would, among other things, redouble efforts at the mobilisation of development financing and technical cooperation, the broadening of market access by effectively dealing with trade-distorting non-tariff measures to accelerate development and positive integration into the world economy.
Other pledges made included concluding the Doha Round of Trade negotiations and making it???? balanced and equitable, increases in official development assistance by donor countries, and the commitment to contributing to international financial resilience by promoting transparent, predictable and effective regulatory regime.
On climate change, delegates agreed that adequate financing and technology was critical to helping developing countries to rise to the challenge, pointing out that the trade and development aspects of climate change were important for development prospects of developing countries and had to be adequately taken into account.
Finally, delegates pledged to make concrete their resolutions towards the next conference, UNCTAD XIII, to be held in Qatar in 2012.
In his closing statements, the Secretary General of UNCTAD, Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, described the Accra Declaration as ambitious but with a broad range of actions, which, when implemented, would ensure a reversal in the lowering fortunes of developing countries, and the equitable spread of development benefits.
Several other delegates from the United States, Cote D’Iviore, and Japan, in their contributions, pledged themselves to the intention in the Accra Declaration.
The Japanese Ambassador in charge of Peace Building and Refugee-Related Issues in Africa, in his contribution, announced that his government had decided to implement a food aid of about a $100-million worth in the next three months as an emergency measure to mitigate the effects of rising food prices.
He said half the aid would be provided for countries in Africa through the World Food Programme (WFP) from May, this year.
Mr Sato said on the issue of rising food prices, the Prime Minister of Japan, Yasuo Fukuda, as the Chariman of the G8, had expressed his intention to raise the matter at the G8 Hokkaido Tokyo Summit in his letters to the UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki Moon and the World Bank President, Robert Zoellick, on April 18, this year.
Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Kwesi Osei-Agyei, who led Ghana’s delegation, expressed the hope that by the next conference in 2012 in Qatar the Accra Declaration would have had many returns.
He described the declaration as a workable road map that would help rake in the benefits for all.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Joe Baidoe-Ansah, closing the conference, thanked all the participants for their consensus in reaching a workable plan to tackle global challenges.
DAILY GRAPHIC, MONDAY, APRIL 28, 2008, PG 20