World Leaders Discuss Trade

As President Bush met last week Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to solidify their support for NAFTA in New Orleans, another meeting was going on in Africa to discuss how free trade has been detrimental to the world’s poor.

The 12th ministerial meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development convened last week in Accra, Ghana with a mandate to take a stronger stand on the causes of poverty.


UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi hailed the Accra Accord and its accompanying political declaration for embodying the shared commitment of the developing and developed world “to work toward making globalization a powerful means to achieve poverty eradication.” Quoting Ghanaian President John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor, whose country hosted the conference, Dr. Supachai referred to a new mood of “development solidarity” around the objective of narrowing gaps between countries and achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which include halving extreme poverty by 2015.

Speaking at the end of the twelfth ministerial meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Dr. Supachai also vowed to strengthen the organization’s work on commodities, including agriculture, in the face of the crisis provoked by surging prices for basic food items. He said the organization had important role to play in promoting policies that bolster agricultural sectors in developing countries. These include increased aid, investment and technology transfers. It could also highlight market distortions and back policies that lead to higher incomes for small producers. This was part of a UN-wide drive to cope with the short, medium and long-term aspects of the food crisis, Dr. Supachai said.

The Accra Accord highlighted the challenges facing many developing countries as they strive to integrate successfully into the international economic and financial system and set out a detailed agenda for progress in economic and social development spanning areas ranging from commodities, trade and debt to investment and new technologies. While welcoming the strong economic growth rates that global trade and investment flows have brought many in the developing world, UNCTAD XII cautioned that these advances have not been shared by all and have been accompanied by new difficulties, most notably the current crises in food prices and financial markets, as well as growing income inequalities.

During the conference attendees looked at how poor decision making on trade and globalization can create more stress for marginalized groups especially women.

From IPS:

‘‘Unless the world refocuses its policies to address the adverse impact of globalisation and economic inequality on development and poverty reduction, the poor and the privileged will continue to live worlds apart,’’ Mayanja said at a roundtable discussion on globalisation, development and poverty reduction.

She warned that few countries, poor or rich, were immune to the rising tide of global inequality, making it imperative for economic and social policies and institutions that will step up efforts to reduce widening social and gender disparities.

‘‘As for women and social equity,’’ Mayanja said, ‘‘despite some positive examples of globalisation having enhanced employment opportunities and strengthened women’s support groups and networks, it has also reinforced or exacerbated many existing gender inequalities.’’

Women do not only bear a disproportionate burden of the world’s poverty but in some cases globalisation had widened that gap, with women losing more than their share of jobs, benefits and labour rights.

‘‘Therefore, gender equality as a goal in itself and, as a means to achieving internationally agreed development targets, assumed a heightened level of importance and urgency,’’ she said.

Mayanja concluded by saying that policies should be sensitive towards gender. They should promote women’s capacity to engage fully at all levels of development activities. This would ‘‘go a long way towards eliminating inequality’’.



At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 11:29:00 AM, Blogger Rich said...

Nafta nafta we got the shafta!

I remember so many people being in favor of Nafta back in 93. It has been proven to be dissasterous to the American worker.


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