FINANCING CONFERENCE ROUND TABLE FOCUSES
(Received from a UN Information Officer.)
MONTERREY, 20 March -- Coherence in trade and development policies was the focus of Ministerial Round Table B4 held this afternoon on the theme of coherence in development, co-chaired by Owen A. Arthur, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance of Barbados, and Jean Lemierre, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The round table was one of four held today as part of the International Conference on Financing for Development, being held in Monterrey, Mexico, from 18 to 22 March.
Coherence in development at its best must be people-centred and meet their basic needs, stated Prime Minister Arthur. There were many different forces at work in shaping development, including trade and investment. To ensure coherence, those factors must be brought together rather than being allowed to work on their own.
He added that there must be a high degree of domestic ownership of the process of development. Coherence in development must involve the removal of contradictions and inconsistencies. In that respect, coherence between trade and development policies was the most difficult to achieve.
At the end of the day, each country was responsible for its own development, stated one representative. For developing countries, that meant good governance, creating an enabling environment and fighting corruption. For donor countries, it meant more than just giving money. Coherence in development, said a representative, anticipated coherence between donor and recipient countries, as well as between large and small countries. Coherence was not an end in itself, but an important element in achieving development goals, stated another.
While it was true that each and every country had the primary responsibility for its development, it was hard for developing countries to progress if developed countries did not provide increased market access for the goods of developing countries, stated another delegate. There were still high levels of protectionism and trade barriers, which restricted the expansion of exports.
Coherence, said one speaker, meant that markets must be seen as a means and not as an end. The neo-liberal approach of the World Trade Organization (WTO) would not give developing countries the flexibility to implement development policies consistent with their needs, stated a civil society representative.
The representative of the World Bank emphasized the importance of coherence at several levels, including among the international financial institutions, as well as with other partners. Coherence was not just consistency of policy, but coming together early and broadly because it produced results. He hoped that the international community was moving in a direction where the notion of conditionalities disappeared and the notion of mutual commitment became the way forward.
One representative noted that the Conference itself was an exercise in coherence, in that it brought together so many different actors with a common focus. Coherence meant having all stakeholders doing all they could to align themselves to achieve the goal of reducing poverty and raising living standards. Among his suggestions was for governments to consider opening up the G-8 process, which would provide a strong stimulus for coherence.
The Minister for Development Cooperation of Finland expressed hope that the decisions taken in Doha would produce greater coherence between trade policies and the achievement of development goals. With regard to coherence between different policy sectors, coherence between trade policy and development policy was probably the most difficult to achieve. The present level of official development assistance (ODA) was $50 billion, and it was estimated that the elimination of trade barriers could increase the incomes of developing countries by between $200 billion and $500 billion. Her Government had begun an internal dialogue between the trade and development departments of its foreign ministry, which it hoped would improve coherence in the Government.
It was the person and his/her advancement which should guide the approach to coherence in policies and in implementation, said the representative of the Holy See. Coherence required a long-term approach and that human beings not be treated as a means to an end. The dignity of the human person must be at the centre of development. Moreover, there could be no coherence when sufficient resources were not available or forthcoming. There could also be no coherence when money was given with one hand and taken away with the other.
Participating in this afternoon’s discussion were Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Kenya, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, Swaziland, Qatar, Thailand, Armenia, Latvia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Austria, Canada, Finland, United Kingdom, United States and the Holy See.
The institutional stakeholder participants were the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), WTO, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Labour Organization (ILO), Islamic Development Bank, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Representing the business sector were the Business Council on Sustainable Development-Argentina, China Online, Cisco Systems, Grupo IMSA, World Economic Forum, FireXchange and Vistech Corporation.
Environmental Development Action in the Third World, Grupo Género y Economía, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, InterAction, and the World Economy, and Ecology and Development participated on behalf of civil society.
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