UK NATIONAL STATEMENT AT UNCTAD XII

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1 UK NATIONAL STATEMENT AT UNCTAD XII Introduction Mr Chairman, Ladies and gentlemen, let me begin by thanking the Government and the people of Ghana for their hospitality in hosting this Conference. This Conference is timely and important. It gives us the opportunity to focus on the importance of trade for the global economy and for countries long term development; and secondly to shape a future for UNCTAD in this context. But first food price increases have featured centrally in many of the presentations in the last two days. Clearly we must do all we can to ensure the poorest do not suffer and food reaches those most in need. The UK will be making further announcements to help in this area very shortly. However there is a real risk that these concerns about food prices rising fuel protectionism and make the problem worse, not better in the future.

2 We do need to address food security. But we must also take action which gets to the root of the problem. In Africa we need to support policies which will help to increase agricultural productivity and accelerate growth. We need more open markets and more trade to lower prices, not less. Trade is part of the solution not part of the problem. Mr Chairman, no country has ever increase prosperity by turning their back on international trade and keeping their markets closed. Indeed, trade is an engine for growth; it creates jobs and generates income; it gives access to more and cheaper goods and stimulates technology transfer. Ultimately, it helps countries improve their living standards and reduce poverty. Entire regions and individual countries have dramatically improved their living standards through policies of openness and integration. But, we know all too well that these success stories are unevenly spread across the globe. In fact, the world s very

3 poorest countries share of global trade is on the decline and has been so for years today they represent a mere 0.4% of this trade. This is clearly not acceptable. We need to create the right environment so people can trade. We need to build the necessary capacity to make trade possible. Indeed, as the 2005 Commission for Africa argued, more free and fair markets would bring to Africa three times more wealth than the aid it currently receives. Or to put it differently, trade is the exit strategy to aid. It won t come as a surprise, therefore, that the UK remains a strong believer in a free and fair global trading system: a system based on transparent and fair rules; a system that puts an end to unfair competition and trade-distorting subsidies; a system that reduces quotas and barriers; and one that helps countries trade themselves out of poverty and towards sustainable growth. but, equally importantly, a system that allows those who need it most, to manage the opening

4 of their markets in tune with their specific circumstances. A successful outcome this year to the ongoing Doha round of trade talks would make a significant contribution to delivering this. Not only would it generate huge gains for the global economy research suggests billions of dollars it would create a more level playing field and give a boost to the multilateral system. It presents the opportunity to enhance global trade and remove subsidies in a way that bilateral deals do not. In today s climate of economic uncertainty and creeping protectionism, this is what we need. A platform for creating global growth. Not new barriers and borders. A Doha deal is within sight, it is very close. Negotiations have now reached crunch point and we must work hard to secure agreement on agricultural and industrial goods in May, if we are to seal a deal this year. It is now or never. The UK remains firmly committed to a deal that delivers real development benefits, and we are lobbying hard for this. Standing here in Ghana, in

5 West Africa, perhaps the most important of these is a deal on cotton that fulfils the promises made at Hong Kong to find a solution that is both ambitious and specific. This is essential to help the more than 20 million people in this region that depend on cotton for their livelihoods. But developing country traders and producers across the globe need support - support to overcome barriers back home, support to maximise the benefits from open markets. They need significant, predictable levels of aid for trade. With the US election approaching fast, changes in Europe next year, and elections in India, a deal needs to be done now or it will be two years before we can return. Such a deal is the single biggest measure deliverable this year to boost global development and make progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. UNCTAD Which is where UNCTAD comes in, occupying as it does a principal place in the international community, astride both trade and development.

6 We in the UK have long supported UNCTAD. Over the past ten years, we have provided significant financial support and expanded the scope of our assistance: we are party to some of the Organisation s largest technical assistance programmes. But as friends we need to be honest. And today is the time and place for that. We want an UNCTAD that works in the interest of developing countries and speaks on their behalf. We value UNCTAD s role as a place to meet and discuss trade and development issues. We cherish its independence and the diversity of views it represents, although we may not always agree. We want an UNCTAD that promotes developing country trade - by advocating the policies that make this happen and by helping build the capacity that is needed. We want an UNCTAD that focuses on what it can do best: producing objective quality research and evidence; translating this into clear policy advice; and turning this advice into results on the ground

7 through well-targeted assistance. We want a player with a lucid mandate that adds value and delivers what it promises. And where dialogue builds understanding, and trust. That requires a spirit of tolerance and flexibility on the part of the whole Membership. We want an UNCTAD that is playing its part in implementing the recommendations of the High Level Panel on system-wide coherence set up by this country s Secretary-General. We have been impressed by UNCTAD s work on competition and investment. We think UNCTAD has a role to play in helping countries manage the risks of commodities trade and addressing issues of special interest to LDCs and Africa. UNCTAD s daughter organisation, the International Trade Centre, is offering important help to developing country exporters trying to reach foreign markets. UNCTAD needs, in short, to streamline and focus its support and make it more efficient and

8 responsive. UNCTAD should move away from numerous uncoordinated unprioritised projects. My Prime Minister, Gordon Brown has recently called on the international community to rally behind a reform of our common institutions so that they are relevant to our times and re-tooled for the new challenges ahead. He has set out the case for a coherent and effective global institutional framework and common institutions that are truly representative of the world we live in. This suggests some fundamental changes to the global financial policy-making bodies of the Bretton Woods. And much better system-wide coherence within the UN family. For us this means that institutional reform is vital in four priority areas: more representative and effective institutions; protecting the environment and tackling climate change; ensuring global security; and working for global prosperity. UNCTAD forms part of this agenda. We want a lean and mean organisation, operating effectively, and coherently, within the international architecture. And putting the interest of the poorest nations to the fore.

9 Conclusion We live in a fast-moving era. Globalisation has brought unprecedented levels of trade and a whole range of new challenges. We need strong institutions with the vision to address these challenges and embrace the opportunities they give rise to. We need institutions that can make real contributions to the goals which have been set across the international system from the Doha round to the Millennium Development Goals. UNCTAD has a clear role to play here. We must work together to make possible the huge potential gains that the global trading system can offer. The challenge may be great, but the opportunities are greater still. Thank you

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