SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES KEY ROLE OF INDUSTRIALIZATION
IN AFRICA’S EFFORTS TO ACHIEVE DEVELOPMENT GOALS,
INTEGRATE INTO GLOBAL ECONOMY
NEW YORK, 17 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Africa Industrialization Day, 20 November:
The theme of this year’s observance of Africa Industrialization Day -- “Acceleration of Africa’s Integration in the Global Economy through Effective Industrialization and Market Access” -- underscores the key role of industrialization in Africa’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and the objectives of the New Agenda for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
For African industries, the challenge of “going global” is in large part a matter of improving effectiveness and competitiveness. This, in turn, depends on a context of dynamic, stable economies, solid export bases, steady investment flows and, above all, political stability. Although effectiveness and competitiveness ultimately originate at the enterprise level, the role of economic and industrial policy is crucial. Governments can and must help nurture comparative advantages by creating an enabling environment for business and industry -- for example by improving infrastructure, upgrading technologies, reducing transaction costs, strengthening governance and building up a skilled and educated workforce. The mobilization of skills, people, technology and knowledge is not automatic; it requires carefully crafted policies and systematic support, domestic and international.
Industrialization makes a varied and valuable contribution to the alleviation of poverty: it raises productivity, creates employment, reduces exposure to risk, enhances the income-generating assets of the poor and helps to diversify exports. International trade is a key companion of industrialization; just as trade is a source of industrial growth, so does industrial growth help to expand a country’s trading prowess. African countries need to diversify away from long-standing trade patterns, which have involved excessive reliance on exports of raw materials and semi-processed goods, and on the traditional comparative advantages of raw materials and unskilled labour. Greater emphasis on higher-value-added products and specialization would reap rewards. However, market access is critical for the success of such an approach. I call again for an end to the subsidies and tariffs that are stifling the ability of poor countries to compete fairly in the international trading system and trade their way out of poverty.
On African Industrialization Day, I reaffirm the commitment of the United Nations family, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization in particular, to strongly promote Africa’s integration into global economy through effective industrialization and market access.
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