THE AGENDA FOR ACCRA
Geneva, 2 April 2008 – Limiting the impact of a potential global slowdown and ensuring that the benefits of “second-generation globalization” reach all the world’s developing countries and poorest populations are among the objectives of the twelfth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XII) to be held in Accra, Ghana, from 20 to 25 April 2008. The conference will seek to identify policies for meeting the urgent needs of the peoples of developing countries and will discuss topical issues in trade and development, such as multilateral rules and disciplines on financial activity and currency flows similar to those regulating international trade.
The theme of UNCTAD XII is Addressing the opportunities and challenges of globalization for development.
UNCTAD XII will bring together Heads of State and Government, including the President of Ghana, John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor; the President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva; the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen; and the President of Turkey, Abdullah Gül; as well as ministers, delegates, representatives of the private sector and non-governmental organizations, experts, artists and journalists.
Since September, representatives of UNCTAD’s 193 member States have been trying to reach consensus on the text that will be adopted in Accra. This negotiating text reveals their vision of how to respond to current economic questions, and will define UNCTAD’s work programme for the next four years. These intensive negotiations will continue in Accra during sessions of UNCTAD XII’s Committee of the Whole.
Created in 1964, UNCTAD is responsible for helping developing countries integrate into the world economy so that they benefit as much as possible from trade, investment and development. It aims to guide debate and reflection on global development questions so that the combination of national policies and international action generates sustainable development. It is the only organization in the UN system to treat development questions in an integrated manner.
Africa will feature prominently at the Accra Conference (see UNCTAD/PRESS/PR/Accra/2008/017). During the high level segment (21 April), “Trade and development for Africa’s prosperity: action and direction“, Heads of State and Government will focus on measures needed for African countries to benefit more from globalization and on what should be done to strengthen the international community’s efforts to promote development-friendly trade and economic growth in Africa. This debate will be chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and moderated by UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi.
The general debate (21-24 April), transmitted live on the Internet, will give Heads of State and Government and delegations the opportunity to express their opinions on trade and development issues.
During the World Investment Forum (18-21 April), corporate executives and senior policymakers will focus on trends and future prospects in the investment-led globalization process (see UNCTAD/PRESS/PR/Accra/2008/018). There will be three interactive panel sessions, co-organized by UNCTAD and the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA), on:
Prospects for Global FDI and New Business
Global Value Chains: Opportunities and Challenges
Africa: a New Emerging Market for FDI
There also will be a global leaders’ debate on new investment dynamics for development (21 April) which will be opened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Participants will assess the new opportunities and challenges emanating from a rapidly changing international investment landscape, including the rise of firms from emerging economies.
Ghana’s first lady, Theresa Kufuor, will present the 2008 Women in Business Awards to the winner and two runners up from among ten finalists of a competition organized by UNCTAD. The candidates, selected by an independent panel of international experts, are from developing countries and are managers and owners of firms that have benefited from the business development services of UNCTAD’s Empretec programme (see UNCTAD/PRESS/PR/Accra/2008/021).
UNCTAD’S World Investment Directory: Africa
(under embargo until 18 April 17:00 hrs GMT) will be launched in Accra at a press conference on 18
April in the Press and Media Centre. In addition to statistical information on foreign direct investment (FDI) by country, the Directory contains a detailed analysis of the latest FDI trends in Africa within the new international context of surging commodity prices and a more attractive climate for investments, both from developed and developing countries (see UNCTAD/PRESS/PR/Accra/2008/019).
UNCTAD and WAIPA will also organize a capacity-building workshop on investment (18 April).
A compilation, “Development and Globalization: Facts and Figures“, that challenges a number of preconceptions about globalization will be released by UNCTAD at the opening of the Accra conference; this document will enable participants at UNCTAD XII, statistics in hand, to follow better the conference’s debates and analyses.
The first multi-agency study of the world’s creative economy, Creative Economy Report – 2007: the Challenge of Assessing the Creative Economy –Towards Informed Policymaking, will be presented in Accra on 20 April at a press conference jointly by UNDP and UNCTAD. This report, under embargo until 20 April 17:00 hrs GMT, provides pioneering trade analysis based on economic and statistical assessments of creative industries worldwide, as well as an overview of how developing countries can better benefit from trade in creative products and services (see: UNCTAD/PRESS/PR/Accra/2008/020).
Africa’s abundant creative talent as well as the vigour of its creative industries will be showcased at a series of events under the Creative Africa initiative, an UNCTAD initiative. These events are organised in partnership with the Government of Ghana, African artists, and Agoralumiere International, a non-profit organization that aims to promote Pan-African creative economies through cultural diversity (see http://www.creative-africa.com ). On the programme are:
A free dialogue on protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural expression in Africa. This dialogue will spotlight existing initiatives on the development of African cultural and creative industries, looking at the distinctive nature of cultural goods and services and the link between culture and development.
art exhibit organized in collaboration with the Dak’Art Biennal featuring works by Ludovic Fadairo (Benin), Joel Mpah-Dooh (Cameroon), Bill Kouelany (Congo), Freddy Tsimba (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Jacques Samir Stenka (Côte d’Ivoire), Brahim El-Anatsui (Ghana), Abdoulaye Konaté (Mali), Bruce Onobrakpeya (Nigeria), Souleymane Keita (Senegal), and Sokey Edorh (Togo).
A fashion show with the
designer, singer, composer and model Anggy Haif from Cameroon, whose designs marry modern textiles with natural materials, such as raphia, roots, liana, leaves and other gathered items;
Niger’s Alphadi, a well-known fashion designer who travels Africa promoting the continent’s talent and convincing decision makers of the contribution fashion can make to economic development; and Kofi Ansah, a renowned avant-garde Ghanaian designer who, after working in Europe, decided to return to Ghana to contribute to the development of the Ghanaian fashion industry.
Concerts with Youssou N’Dour, whose music, known as mbalax, blends Senegal’s traditional griot percussion, and praise-singing with Afro-Cuban arrangements and flavours; Femi Kuti, an exhilarating performer of Afro-beat, a mixture of funk, jazz and traditional African music; Kojo Antwi, whose Afro Pop sound blends West African music and Afro-American rhythm and blues; and the renown African rap band AURA.
Dance with the Ghana Dance Ensemble, which combines ancient folk and contemporary dance forms; and the Egyptian star and Afro-oriental dancer Dina Talaat.
The conference will offer an opportunity to hear the views of civil society. A position document will be finalised during a Civil Society Forum (17-25 April). As UNCTAD considers the role played by civil society to be extremely important for advancing poverty alleviation and sustainable human development, it works closely with civil-society organizations to enrich its analysis, research, consensus-building and operational work.
Summary of ministerial roundtables
1. Globalization, development and poverty reduction – their social and gender dimensions (22 April).
The persistence of wide gaps in income, both between and within countries, is a sign that the policy consensus over much of the past 25 years centring on liberalized markets and flexible prices has been inadequate for tackling the more complex challenges of globalization. It has therefore become necessary to find the balance between open and global markets, national policy autonomy and commitments in the trade and financial spheres.
2. Creating an institutional environment conducive to increased foreign investment and sustainable development (22 April).
This roundtable will focus on what developing countries can do to encourage foreign direct investment that leads to infusions of new technology, the development of a more skilled workforce, and the establishment of partnerships between foreign firms and domestic businesses.
3. The changing face of commodities in the 21st century (23 April). On the agenda is the question of how low-income commodity-dependent developing countries may be able to generate sufficient gains from the recent rise in commodity prices to launch their economies on paths of sustained growth.
4. Emergence of a new South and South-South trade as a vehicle for regional and interregional integration for development (23 April). In recent years, a defining feature of globalization has been the emergence of “the new South.” The economic dynamism of countries such as China, Brazil, and India is creating new markets, new trading opportunities and demand growth. Participants at the roundtable will examine whether this dynamic South could offer the opportunity to sustain global growth in the event of a slowdown in developed countries, and how South-South trade could play a bigger role in the fight against poverty.
5. Harnessing knowledge and technology for development (24 April).
Knowledge, technology and economic growth are more and more interconnected, but combining these ingredients in developing countries is a Herculean task. This roundtable will pay particular attention to measures that can reduce current obstacles to transfers of knowledge.
6. Debt management solutions supporting trade and development (24 April).
Turmoil on the financial markets is back. Economists are uncertain how far and how deeply the subprime-mortgage collapse and a possible recession in the United States will affect the rest of the world. Governments and the international community need to ensure that developing-country debt is managed in a sustainable manner so that enough resources remain for governments to deal with imperatives such as health care and poverty.
7. Developing productive capacities in least developed countries (24 April).
Although the economies of the 49 least developed countries (LDCs) have been growing at a record pace in recent years, this is not translating into significant poverty reduction or a significant diversification of exports. As a result, LDCs remain highly vulnerable to recurrent shocks and crises. This roundtable will focus on the necessity of diversifying economic activity in LDCs, on attracting the most helpful forms of investment, and on spurring the adoption of new technologies.
8. Strengthening UNCTAD: enhancing its development role.
9. Strengthening UNCTAD: enhancing its impact and institutional effectiveness
For more than 40 years, UNCTAD has sought to help developing countries participate successfully in the world economy by getting the most out of trade, investment and development. In today’s highly integrated and rapidly changing global environment, UNCTAD’s core role and mandates remain as relevant as ever. UNCTAD strives for greater political coherence and equity in international decision-making. The strength of UNCTAD’s work lies in its integrated approach to development issues. There is also a structurally built-in coherence between the three pillars of UNCTAD’s main areas of work – research and policy analysis, intergovernmental consensus building processes and technical cooperation activities.