Posted: April 26, 2012
South Africa Country Statement Unctad XIII, Doha, Qatar, Delivered by The Honorable Dr Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry Republicof South Africa
|President of the Conference
Secretary General Supachai
I want to express my delegation’s sincere gratitude to the people and government of Qatar for hosting UNCTAD 13, and for their warm and generous hospitality.
Many of you will recall that following our democratic transition in 1994, South Africa agreed to host UNCTAD 9. That was democratic South Africa’s very first hosting of an international inter-governmental conference, and it is significant that it was the conference of an organization whose mandate is to deepen understanding, and promote consensus and policies for development.
The theme adopted at that conference, “Partnerships for Development”, is one that continues to have resonance until today. The theme for this Conference “Development-centered Globalization: Towards inclusive and sustainable growth and development” is also entirely appropriate in light of the challenges posed for development, growth and unemployment by the uneven and unbalanced processes of globalization which have been exacerbated by the lingering effects of the recent Global Recession.
UNCTAD remains particularly well-placed to address these questions. Its universal membership ensures that it is engagements are inclusive and transparent. Its intergovernmental structure provides the platform for consensus seeking, cooperation and accommodation in a manner where all interests are given voice.
UNCTAD’s mandate as the focal point in the UN system dedicated to consider the interrelated issues of trade, investment, finance and technology from a development perspective is unique and extraordinarily valuable. Indeed, as the recent crisis again demonstrated, holistic perspectives are necessary to deal with the challenges of development and growth in the increasingly interdependent global economy.
South Africa therefore remains committed to supporting a strengthening of UNCTAD’s capacity to deliver on itsprogrammes of consensus building, policy dialogue, research, technical cooperation and capacity building, so that it is better equipped to deliver on its development mandate. SA fully associates itself with the observation of BRICS Trade Ministers meeting in Delhi, in March this year, that “At a time when the global economy is in crisis, the Doha trade round is at an impasse and multilateralism is under challenge, it is vital for UNCTAD to strengthen its role of policy dialogue, consensus building and capacity building in developing countries”.
Among the many issues that deserve dedicated attention, South Africa would underline the following key areas where we believe UNCTAD’s work could deliver positive results.
First, we believe there is great value in developing new thinking and forging a new dialogue on appropriate strategies for economic growth and development in developing countries in light of the shortcomings of mainstream economic thinking on the subject that have been exposed during the recent crisis. There are many examples of successful policy programmes and measures that some developing countries have undertaken to overcome structural constraints and embark on higher value added and employment creating growth and development paths. There is urgent need to draw on these experiences to construct a new, more relevant paradigm for development.
Second, African countries have embarked on an ambitious agenda to promote development integration across large parts of the continent, based on combining market integration with programmes for infrastructure development and cooperation to develop value added productive sectors. UNCTAD could play a positive role providing technical and policy support for these efforts.
Third, UNCTAD has a distinguished record on promoting south-south cooperation. Rapid increases in flows of trade and investment amongst developing countries in the last few years offer enormous new opportunities for growth and development. UNCTAD can play a supporting role in identifying ways to ensure that such investment and trade supports sustainable development, builds cooperation, avoids destructive competition, and overturns entrenched patterns of trade wherein raw materials are exchanged for high value-added manufactured products.
Fourth, UNCTAD should continue to make a contribution to the dialogue on the reform and strengthening of open, rules-based multilateral trade and financial systems from a development perspective. This work is more relevant in light of the impasse in the Doha Round negotiations and the ongoing challenges arising from shortcomings in the international financial institutions.
Fifthly, we see value in opening dialogues that aim to strengthen the relationship between promoting sustainable development and the green economy. Finally, we believe that there is a need for adeepenedstructured engagement on the issue of protectionism, and its impact on international production, trade, finance, investment and technology. Of particular importance in our view, is the need to arrive at an appropriate shared understanding from a developmental perspective of the distinction between protectionism and the use of legitimate policy measures to promote industrial development and employment. UNCTAD should also make a contribution to the new work on ‘trade in tasks’ that reflect global supply chains, from a development perspective. In this respect some of the key dimensions that will need to be considered would be: What does this mean for jobs? How is value addition shared along the chain? and How do developing countries secure a larger share of value addition, amongst other things?
Each of these are issues of enormous global significance. South Africa believes that UNCTAD is well-placed to make a positive contribution to a better understanding on the basis of the research it undertakes and to building consensus on appropriate policy responses given the transparent, inclusive and universal inter-governmental platforms it provides. We will therefore support a strengthening of its developmental mandate.