Jun 4, 1986
U.N.: UNCTAD-VII SHOULD REVITALISE MULTILATERALISM, SAYS G77.GENEVA, JUNE 2 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) -- Restoration and revitalisation of development in the framework of multilateralism would be an appropriate unifying theme for UNCTAD-VII, the group of seventy-seven has suggested. The agenda for UNCTAD-VII due to be held in 1987 is currently the subject of informal consultations by the UNCTAD Secretary-General with the various regional groups, and is due to be discussed at a short resumed session of the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board on June 16-17. In a position paper for these consultations, the G77 has identified the "core issues" of the international economic problems as - money, finance and development; commodities; and international trade. These issues provide "the basis for economic rehabilitation and sustainable development in the developing countries". On a "scientific evaluation" of factors governing the current state of the global economy, and on an unbiased and objective dialogue focusing on these broad issues, "it should be possible to reach a set of negotiated agreements, and action oriented measures" at UNCTAD-VII, the group has said. Agreements negotiated at UNCTAD-VII would be rendered meaningful only through commitment on the part of all, without any reservations, to implement them in the most appropriate, timely and effective manner. A successful UNCTAD-VII, backed by political commitment of all participants to agreements reached, would result in a renewed sense of hope and would be a triumph of multilateralism. The international economy could be optimised only if it is developed "in a more even-handed manner", and if participation of the third world is "broadened and deepened". UNCTAD, the G77 suggests, has a crucial role to play in achieving this objective, and the framework of UNCTAD-VII offers a timely opportunity "to restore a constructive dialogue". The session would be meeting at a time when gap between North and South continues to widen - with economies of industrial world improving and that of the third would having to contend with mass poverty, accumulated indebtedness, and the cumulative multiplier effect of prolonged period of adverse terms of trade, sharply declining commodity prices, reduced flows of development capital and protectionism. The difficulties of many third world countries in managing their economies should be viewed in its "correct historical perspective", including the unfulfilled undertakings and commitments given by industrial countries at previous UNCTAD and other Fora. "In this context", the G77 has said, "it is appropriate to reaffirm the mandate of UNCTAD ..., and to reiterate the relevance and significance of the objective stated in the declaration on the establishment and the programme of action of a new international economic order". Only concerted actions in a multilateral framework could overcome the current global economic crisis, create a healthy and equitable international economic environment, and rehabilitate the economies of the third world in a sustainable manner. These objectives are attainable, and UNCTAD-VII offers a timely opportunity to address the resolution of these various elements. It is no coincidence that there is a deep crisis in international cooperation even as the world economy is undergoing a protracted economic crisis. Equity and economic justice are at the heart of international trade and development, and a resolution of these issues calls for "a commitment to multilateralism as a unifying value permeating the conference". UNCTAD-VII should focus on issues that would enable a common perception of "why and how the world economy is malfunctioning", and enable agreement on specific actions and their implementation in multilateral fora. The Buenos Aires platform, put forward by the Group of 77 for UNCTAD-VII, still remains valid, and by concentrating on key broad issues and reaching "a critical mass of agreement for specific action", UNCTAD-VII would have contributed to sustained and balanced development of the global economy. If third world countries are able to secure capital formation within their economies, entirely by relying on their own resources, this would provide outlets for economic products of industrial countries. But in the circumstances of "an interlocked world economy" this is clearly "out of question". Net capital formation (in the third world) is not "an independent variable", but a function of several elements, of which national exertion was of course the most decisive. But the magnitude of the accumulating indebtedness of many third world countries demonstrates the severe negative multiplier effects of a combination of adverse factors. An unless the immediate indebtedness issue is resolved, many third world countries would be forced into retrenchment, with consequences hardly difficult to contemplate. An open and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system is also absolutely essential to enable third world countries to contribute optimally to strengthening the global economy. The reform of the international monetary and financial system is also extremely urgent now. "Without reforming the various international institutions charged with the responsibility of providing development capital and managing global liquidity through such measures as adequate and timely compensatory finance, and meeting legitimate balance of payment needs, the global economy will not have a stable and secure basis for functioning satisfactorily", the group has said. Another issue relates to the Least Developed Countries (LDCS), who continue to remain "marginalised" in global trade and exchange system, and UNCTAD-VII should review the Substantial New Programme of Action (SNPA) for the LDCS.