UN TRADE REPORT: RISE IN NATURAL RESOURCES PRICES APPEARS TO BE HURTING POOR
NATIONS New York, Apr 23 2012 3:05PM A sustained rise in prices for raw
natural resources and basic agricultural goods is defying long-standing
patterns and appears to be hurting poor nations through rising food and fuel
costs more than it is helping them through higher revenues for their
That was one of the findings of the Commodities and Development Report
2012, a study launched at the 13th session of the UN Conference on Trade
and Development (UNCTAD), in Doha, Qatar, today.
The session, known as UNCTAD
XIII, is the first ministerial conference on trade and development since the
fallout from the 2007-2008 global economic crisis. The sessions are held
every four years, and the theme of this year?s session is
?Development-centred globalization: Towards inclusive and sustainable growth
According to the report, mounting financial speculation in commodities and
the increasing diversion of agricultural land to biofuel crops has changed
the forces underpinning commodity prices, pushing them through a sustained
period of increase.
What should be a boon for poor nations, especially the globe?s 48 least
developed countries ? whose economies often depend heavily on commodity
exports ? is on balance a negative development because many of these
countries are net importers of oil and staple foods.
Since the food crisis of 2008, prices for basic nourishment have been both
volatile and high, the report notes ? and poor families are acutely
vulnerable, as they typically spend 50 per cent or more of their incomes on
The report?s recommendations include that steps be taken to invest in
national and regional food reserves to help food-insecure countries; the
recent shift to ?finance-driven globalization,? as it applies to
commodities, should be reconsidered; fiscal and taxation policies should be
adjusted so that they help developing countries reap stable, long-term
economic benefits from commodities exports; and measures should be taken
nationally and internationally to improve the situations of small farmers
and other small commodity producers in poor countries.
UNCTAD XIII was officially opened over the weekend. Addressing the opening
ceremony on Saturday, the Deputy Secretary-General, Rose Asha-Migiro, said
it was appropriate that the conference was taking place in the Arab world,
?where rapid political transformations are creating new job opportunities
?The recent unrest in the Arab world has shown that a lack of economic
opportunity and political voice, particularly among youth, is not
sustainable,? she said. ?Indeed, growing awareness of social injustice and
inequality has also led to protests in several advanced countries.?
The Deputy Secretary-General noted that UNCTAD XIII provided an opportunity
to address five principal challenges: identifying measures needed to restore
growth in the global economy; examining the causes of the crisis, especially
those of a systemic nature, and identify measures to prevent its recurrence;
identifying trade and developments policies that support efforts to mitigate
climate change; making globalization more inclusive; and, lastly, unlocking
the full potential of international business.
?UNCTAD?s universal membership, combined with its broad mandate covering
trade, finance, investment, technology and sustainable development, make
UNCTAD XIII a timely forum to chart the way forward,? Ms. Migiro said. ?A
failure at this juncture could lead to a loss of trust, and undermine the
legitimacy of globalization and its development promise. Much is at stake.?
Addressing UNCTAD XIII on Sunday, the President of the General Assembly,
Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, said UNCTAD had, throughout its existence,
closely reflected the concerns of the majority of the Assembly?s membership
in the area of development ? with that majority of nations also representing
the vast majority of the world?s population, and with most of those hailing
from developing countries.
?I am here today to reaffirm and renew our shared commitment to the special
role that UNCTAD has played ? and must continue to play ? in giving voice
and support to the most urgent needs of the developing nations,? the
Assembly President said. ?The interests of the most developed countries are
also addressed when we recall the importance of South-South and triangular
cooperation in the area of development.?
Established in 1964, UNCTAD promotes the development-friendly integration of
developing countries into the world economy, and seeks to help shape current
policy debates and thinking on development, with a particular focus on
ensuring that domestic policies and international action are mutually
supportive in bringing about sustainable development.
It has long maintained that the current global economic and financial system
has allowed a lop-sided system to flourish, with some participants reaping
the benefits while global income inequality and financial imbalances have
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