|NEW: African Trade Agenda 4.2 (April 2012)|
Rich country attack on UNCTAD threatens Africa’s development prospects
By Tetteh Hormeku, TWN-Africa
he determination by rich industrial countries to eliminate the overall trade and development policy role of the United Nations Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD) at the forthcoming thirteenth quadrennial conference of the organisation risks depriving African and other developing countries of a global inter-governmental platform for alternative development policy just when these countries need it most.
In the preparations for the UNCTAD XIII in Doha, Qatar from 21-25 April, where the organisation will secure a new mandate, industrialised countries have opposed key elements of UNCTAD’s independent analyses and recommendations on issues of the global economy, especially on the global financial and economic crisis, its implications for the global economy and the future of developing countries, as well as areas for policy reform to support these countries.
In the place of these, the rich countries are pursuing the very free-market dogmas of universal liberalisation and de-regulation that have been discredited by the crisis, and half of which they hardly apply to themselves. In addition, they are pushing to reduce UNCTAD’s role from broader policy analytical support to essentially narrow technical input for least developed countries in the implementation of market-friendly policies.
Developing country trade officials as well as other independent observers and analysts believe that the rich countries are so bent on their positions they are prepared to push UNCTAD XIII into deadlock.
“They don’t care if there is no result from the conference; they are trying to block everything and ramp up a campaign against the institution”, one observer stated.
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