Statement by ITC Executive Director, Ms. Patricia Francis, for the General Debate at UNCTAD XIII Wednesday, 25 April 2012, 9:30Venue: Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC)
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The International Trade Centre is a joint agency of UNCTAD and the WTO. In this role, we support UNCTAD’s policy work on trade and development through trade-related technical assistance. We do this in cooperation with UNCTAD, engaging the private sector and mainstreaming trade into the development strategy, building consensus for trade policy initiatives which deliver results for inclusive and sustainable development objectives.
The theme that UNCTAD has chosen for this Ministerial -- Development-centred globalization: Towards inclusive and sustainable growth and development – could not be more appropriate and timely. In this ever changing economic environment, we see the strong need for countries to have access to trade information and capacity-building in order to become competitive. There is also the need to adapt to emerging challenges such as political instability, food insecurity and climate change as well as to compete for development financing. Indeed, the WTO has only last week warned that global trade will slow down to 3.7 percent this year – down from 5 percent last year, and 13.8 percent in 2010.
In this context, it is the vulnerable countries that are struggling to catch up, to integrate into the global economy in a meaningful and sustainable way. One of the most effective ways to assist these countries is to be in front of these global challenges: to anticipate the difficulties and to work with many partners to address them.
UNCTAD addresses this through promoting a global partnership for development and through promotion of equitable policies for inclusive and sustainable development. On its own and in partnership with others, including ITC, UNCTAD strives to be ahead of the challenges for the benefit of those vulnerable countries.
ITC and UNCTAD enjoy a strong relationship, working together, and with other partners, to ensure that developing and least developed countries are benefitting from global trade.
One of our main joint initiatives is ensuring that countries have access to trade intelligence that is transparent. ITC and UNCTAD work in partnership with the World Bank, the WTO and the African Development Bank on Transparency in Trade. The initiative addresses the transparency gap resulting from the lack of access to data on country-specific trade information. Once fully developed, it will give free access to information on trade policy instruments like tariffs, non-tariff measures (NTMs) and services regulations. In addition, the initiative will generate new and more accurate data on NTMs and policies affecting trade in services and investment. All data will be freely accessible on a web portal serving as a platform for users in both developed and developing countries.
Another key to transparency is the ability for exporters and policymakers to understand the ever-growing field of voluntary sustainability standards. UNCTAD initiated the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards, on whose steering committee ITC serves. The Forum brings together different stakeholders related to sustainability standards, and more particularly provides a platform for developing country policymakers to discuss opportunities and challenges of these standards.
ITC is also contributing to an upcoming UNCTAD publication on Corporate Social Responsibility in value chains. ITC’s particular area of focus is “the role of private standards in responsible supply chains”.
Transparency, and shining a light on barriers in order to work towards better policies, are critical to exporters’ and countries’ abilities to accessing global value chains. And it is through partnerships that we can best achieve this.
In these challenging times, we are all learning to do more with less. Indeed, it gives us the opportunity to strengthen our cooperation, to join forces to achieve more.
ITC fully supports the work of UNCTAD and looks forward to new opportunities for partnerships to achieve inclusive and sustainable development.