I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Asian Group. At the outset, the Asian Group associates itself with the statement delivered by Ecuador on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
We congratulate you on your election as the TDB President and assure you of the Group’s full support in discharge of your duties. We appreciate the excellent work done by the outgoing President of the TDB, Ambassador Salim Baddoura of Lebanon and congratulate him on his successful tenure. I also thank the Secretary-General and the Secretariat team for preparations of this session of the TDB.
The Asia-Pacific Group remains mindful of increasing trends of protectionism at the international level especially in the areas of trade where full-blown war is being waged by major players, to the detriment of not only themselves but also developing and least developed countries. The challenging environment is unlikely to get better in coming months and years. The developing countries, who opened up their markets and economies with the promise of potential benefits of neoliberalism and globalization, are finding themselves at the mercy of external forces beyond their control.
Rather global supply chains and interconnected nature of international economy have exposed developing countries to an unprecedented degree. Resultantly, many developing countries have been beset by increasingly unsustainable debt, fiscal pressures, loss of economic growth, decreasing exports and overall trade, declining investment and continued loss of precious foreign reserves due to illicit financial flows.
Increasing importance of digital economy in the national and international economic landscape has opened up many opportunities but also pose a number of challenges, especially for developing countries. Digital and technological divides
are hindering integration of developing countries in reaping the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In addition, low and semi-skilled workers in developing countries are expected to be hit hard by the industrial automation and slowdown of demand in developed countries.
Furthermore, the role and economic value of data has become one of the foremost questions of our time. Interestingly, those advocating free flow of data are also often the ones putting up restrictions on international trade in goods through introduction of tariffs and other barriers. We think UNCTAD – through its intergovernmental pillar – should play its effective role in evolving common principles and understanding on the economic value of data and the importance of digital industrialization in developing countries.
These issues demand serious and sustained engagement at international level. Therefore, we have been calling for a constructive dialogue between developed and developing countries to address longstanding and emerging challenges faced by developing countries which continued to hamper their prospects for long-term social and economic development.
As an institution tasked to assist developing countries enable their true potential in trade and development, the Conference is best suited to play its role in providing a platform for such a dialogue. In this regard, we also call for a robust preparatory process and concrete outcome of the fifteenth UN Conference on Trade and Development to be held in 2020.
The Group would actively participate in the session’s proceedings and assure you of our cooperation for a successful TDB. We would highlight other issues of importance under their respective agenda items.
I thank you Mr. President.