I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Asia-Pacific Group.
At the outset, the Group would like to associate itself with the statement delivered by Tanzania on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
We thank the Secretary-General for his introductory remarks and the entire secretariat for preparation for this session of the Board. We thank outgoing President of the Board, Ambassador Christopher Onyanga Aparr of Uganda and his leadership during Phase-1 of implementation of Nairobi Maafakiano. We like to congratulate your election as President of the Board and all other office bearers for the 2017-2018.
We also congratulate the Secretary-General upon his re-election for the second term.
Developing countries continue to attach great importance to this institution which was established more than fifty years ago to enable them gain equal footing in the global economic landscape through creating new international economic order. The idea was to provide a forum for developing countries to overcome imbalances in the international trading system and global economic and financial architecture that severely affected their long-term development.
Some of those lofty goals have indeed been achieved – enabling millions to come out of poverty. But the progress is far from universal and equitable. Several important areas of concern to developing countries are still unresolved while many geographical regions of the Global South are still reeling from grinding poverty and chronic underdevelopment. Importantly, imbalances and disparities in the global economic and financial architecture are present as ever. The gulf between haves and have-nots has increased considerably between and within developing and developed countries alike.
We expect the Conference to continue to take a lead in our efforts to address these persistent and emerging challenges across its three pillars: consensus-building, policy analysis and technical assistance. Failure to do so or any wavering in fulfilling its mandate could lead the institution towards irrelevance.
Trade is considered as one of the enabling factors for development. Economic and social development is directly linked to participation in the global trade. However, restrictive trade regimes, among others, have constrained developing countries’ efforts towards their economic development and integration with global markets. Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) or non-tariff measures (NTMs) put up further restrictions to stifle developing countries’ participation in global trade.
We would like to recognize the important work being done by the UNCTAD Secretariat on mapping NTMs and helping developing countries overcome these barriers and achieving better market access.
The role of private sector is critically important in realizing Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, the private sector should be facilitated as an enabler to create economic opportunities. Public-private partnership should also be strengthened in developing countries for economic development. UNCTAD should also recognize and work to address the challenges faced by countries in conflict and affected by terrorism, which continue to adversely affect their economic development.
Nairobi Maafakiano was a landmark consensus document that tried to reorient priorities of UNCTAD in the context of Sustainable Development Agenda. One of the major decisions taken at UNCTAD 14 was concerning the revitalization of intergovernmental machinery. The establishment of two Intergovernmental Groups of Experts (IGEs) is indeed a positive step that, we believe, could contribute substantially to multilateral discussions on “financing for development” and “E-Commerce and digital economy”.
Member States now need to engage with the same positive spirit on the Phase-2 implementation of Nairobi Maafakiano. In particular, we should accelerate our work on ways and means to strengthen intergovernmental pillar of UNCTAD, which is raison d’être of the Organization. This will ensure a successful and effective Mid-term review that we are supposed to undertake sometimes next year. We also look forward to contribution from the Secretary-General and his team on implementation of relevant decision of Nairobi Maafakiano concerning revitalization of intergovernmental machinery of UNCTAD.
Members of Asia-Pacific Group stand ready to contribute substantially to deliberations in the Phase-2 implementation, especially those of concerns to developing countries including tax, debts and technology transfer issues.
Due to limiting financial resources, we encourage Secretary-General to explore ways and means to bridge the gap between financial needs and implementation of the programs. In addition, careful allocation of the budget and financial resources particularly the regular budgetary resources to the priority areas of developing countries is of high importance.
We appreciate developed countries for their contribution. However, it is important to note that, as per the technical assistance report, the contribution from developed countries has decreased at a time when share of self–funded programs by developing countries has increased.
Member States attach great importance to the work of UNCTAD. The Secretary-General is also requested to take into consideration ways to enhance research and analysis pillar.
Finally, we support the view to reschedule annual session of the Trade and Development Board to May/June so that it does not coincide with other important UN-related meetings. It will also allow the TDB to provide adequate and timely input to the ECOSOC High Level Event and the General Assembly.
We assure you of our constructive engagement.
I thank you Mr. President.