TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jul16/13)
20 July 2016
Third World Network

UNCTAD-14: "Heavy lifting" now beginning, says Conference President
Published in SUNS #8286 dated 20 July 2016

Nairobi, 19 Jul (Kanaga Raja) -- On the third day of the 14th session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD-14) here, the Committee of the Whole (COW) was engaged in what the President of the Conference described on Monday as some "heavy lifting" in tackling the heavily square bracketed draft text of the Outcome document, setting out UNCTAD's agenda policy and programmes of work over the next four years.

At a media briefing on Monday (18 July), Dr Amina Mohamed, Kenyan Cabinet Secretary and President of the UNCTAD-14 Conference said the ceremonial part of the UNCTAD-14 conference is now over and the COW was meeting from 18 July afternoon. She added "we are very pleased with the way that the process is moving forward." She noted the COW was meeting from 18 July afternoon, and "the heavy lifting is beginning."

According to a source close to the discussions, the COW has a lot of work to do in Nairobi, as unfortunately there are about one thousand brackets to deal with (in the draft outcome text). Speaking to SUNS on condition of anonymity, the source said that although a lot of progress had been made in many areas in Geneva, some of the usual issues are still bracketed. In this context, the source cited the issue of debt restructuring, which has brackets around it, and the issue of taxation, which UNCTAD is putting forward as a possible area of work.

There is still a debate as to whether UNCTAD has the expertise and competence to work on taxation, which Group B (the developed countries) are questioning. The G77 on the other hand believes that UNCTAD should be able to work on taxation.

The issue of policy space has come back again and is also in brackets, hence needing a debate.

Another area is RBM - or Results Based Management - for UNCTAD, with disagreements on whether it should be a major factor across the board in the three pillars of UNCTAD, including the intergovernmental process.

According to the source, the G77 are a bit cautious about introducing results based management into the intergovernmental process.

The "results based management" is something that the UN is now pushing as well as the larger donor countries.

Civil society groups at the Conference have said the Group B countries pushing it at UNCTAD, should first apply it in institutions controlled by them - the World Trade Organization, the IMF and World Bank - and to issues that the donors have long been pushing to distract from and avoid main issues where they have to yield space to developing countries.

Following the meeting of the COW, on Monday evening, those present at discussions told SUNS that there has been no appreciable movement and that the COW will be meeting again on Tuesday (19 July), and that very little progress had been made on the first day. +