Doha outcome document lays out areas of future work

The following is an analysis of the final document that was adopted at the conclusion of UNCTAD XIII in Doha.

UNCTAD XIII concluded on 26 April with the adoption of an outcome document by consensus, after all-night sessions in two groups that finished at 5.00 in the morning.

A draft of 26 April 5 a.m., titled 'President's suggested distilled negotiating text for UNCTAD XIII', was brought to the table at lunchtime for final cleaning up and confirmation by a meeting of regional coordinators and leading negotiators chaired by the President of the Committee of the Whole, Ambassador Mothae  Maruping of Lesotho.

The text was then put before the Committee of the Whole, which was made up of all UNCTAD member states, and adopted, thus providing UNCTAD XIII with an agreed outcome. Having such an outcome by consensus was itself seen as a success, as it had not been clear that it could be achieved, given the often acrimonious negotiations during the preparatory process.

On 24 April, the Group of 77 and China had proposed that the two most important paragraphs (16 and 17) that address UNCTAD's overall mandate be discussed first, rather than wait for the end of the negotiations. This proposal was agreed to, and agreement was reached on the two paragraphs on 24 April evening, following which there was a conducive atmosphere for more collaborative negotiations on all the other issues.

The adopted text has five main sections, in line with the overall theme of UNCTAD XIII (development-centred globalisation) and the four sub-themes (enabling economic environment; trade and development; persistent and emerging development challenges; and investment, trade and entrepreneurship).

Each section contains a part on policy analysis and a part on the role of UNCTAD. The 'role of UNCTAD' text is seen as providing the mandate of work, while the 'policy analysis' provides the context for the work.

In the section on policy analysis on the main theme, development-centred globalisation, the document recognises the financial crisis and that the global economic recovery remains fragile. It also has paragraphs on food security, energy, climate, environment, financing, industrialisation and social protection.

On the role of UNCTAD, paragraph 16 reaffirms the Accra Accord, which it says remains valid and relevant, while paragraph 17 states that UNCTAD remains the focal point for the UN for an integrated treatment of trade and development and interrelated issues of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development.

These two paragraphs are seen to provide a broad mandate for UNCTAD to continue its present work on all the issues agreed to at UNCTAD XII in Accra in 2008, plus any additional issues contained in the present Doha outcome document.

The role of UNCTAD is elaborated in paragraphs on being a forum for development dialogue; discussions on the green economy; trade and development; issues of interest to least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries and small island states and vulnerable small economies and middle-income countries.

On sub-theme 1 on enhancing the enabling economic environment, the document recognises efforts to improve the global economy to prevent financial and economic shocks and promote development.

It has paragraphs on the trading system, the Doha Development Agenda, refraining from unilateral measures, non-tariff barriers, commodities, debt sustainability and debt crisis prevention and management, restructuring public debt, fiscal policies, regulation of financial markets, and responsible lending and borrowing.

The role of UNCTAD is elaborated in the areas of social protection floors, regional cooperation organisations, debt issues, non-tariff barriers and measures, commodity dependence, technical assistance on trade matters, and programme for Palestine.

On sub-theme 2 on strengthening cooperation for trade, the document analyses global trade, development aid, aid for trade, regional integration, regional cooperation, South-South cooperation and the Millennium Development Goals.

The role of UNCTAD is elaborated in respect of research on North-South and South-South cooperation, promoting South-South cooperation, regional trade, addressing opportunities and challenges of South-South cooperation, aid for trade, official development assistance, public-private partnerships and support to LDCs.

On sub-theme 3 on development challenges related to trade and development and interrelated issues, the document has policy analysis on the world economy, accession to the WTO, services, infrastructure, agriculture, land-locked countries and small island states, regional trade agreements, competition policy, empowering women, science and technology, information technology, environment and natural disasters.

The role of UNCTAD is elaborated in relation to assistance for WTO accession, protectionism, services, financial services for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and individuals, migration, remittances, agriculture, organic farming, food security, trade facilitation, small island states, vulnerable economies, economies in transition, competition and consumer protection, gender, employment, science and technology, trade and environment, insurance and catastrophic risk.

On sub-theme 4 on promoting investment and trade, the policy analysis covers trade, foreign direct investment (FDI), building productive capacity, industrial policies, diversification of commodity-dependent countries, technology and balance of the intellectual property rights (IPRs) system, including on traditional knowledge and genetic resources in line with the World Intellectual Property Organisation development agenda, and middle-income countries.

The role of UNCTAD covers work on investment policy, FDI and other capital flows, technology transfer, productive capacities of LDCs, trade capacity building, trade and economic diversification, continued work on IPRs, international investment agreements, SMEs and entrepreneurship. - TWN                                                           

This article is reproduced from the South-North Development Monitor (SUNS, No. 7359, 27 April 2012), which is published by the Third World Network.

*Third World Resurgence No. 260, April 2012, pp 16-17