In view of the forthcoming quadrennial meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) XII to be held in Accra, Ghana on April 20-25, 2008, CUTS Centre for International Trade, Economics and Environment (CUTS CITEE), Jaipur has been holding a Civil Society Forum on the linkages between trade, development and poverty reduction at Hanoi. The event at Hanoi provided Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from across Asia with a discussion forum on the effects of globalisation and addressed key questions of policy coherence, trade and development, productive capacity and the role of UNCTAD. Despite the obvious benefits from trade liberalisation, vast income differences have emerged in the course of globalisation process, raising the question how a sustainable path to development incorporating all sections of societies can be ensured.
With the support from the Department for International Development (DFID), UK and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINBUZA), the Netherlands, the CUTS Centre for International Trade, Economics & Environment (CUTS CITEE), has been implementing a project on the linkages between Trade, Development and Poverty Reduction (TDP) since 2005. The project covers research, advocacy and networking activities with several partner organisations in Asia, Africa and Europe, examining the specific national development paths in relation to trade liberalisation. This event kicked off with the book launch of the Volume-I of the TDP project: Trade-Development-Poverty Linkages – Reflections from Selected Asian and Sub Saharan African Countries – Country Case Studies.
Addressing the meeting Atiur Rahman, Executive Director of Unnayan Shamannay, Bangladesh, pointed out the importance of redistributing the benefits of economic growth from international trade to ensure social peace and sustainable development. M. A. Razzaque, Economic Advisor to the Commonwealth Secretariat and Editor of the TDP Volume-I, provided an overview of the research conducted in the Asian and African countries. He outlined the lessons learnt, which include the importance of policy regime ownership, the significance of the agricultural sector especially for the least developed countries (LDCs) and the development of domestic productive capacity.
In the first thematic session on “Coherence in Global Policy Making for Sustainable Economic Development and Poverty Reduction”, the question why trade does not lead to all-pervasive growth and poverty reduction was raised. Sharad Joshi, Member of Parliament of India, opined that while trade has generally led to growth, it has been observed that trade alone is not the solution to sustainable development. Veena Jha, Visiting Professor of Warwick University, UK argued that governments and civil society in both developed and developing countries and international institutions need to be included to achieve sustainable development. She explained that a transfer of public resources as well as the establishment of fairer and more transparent rules to support national actions is necessary. Coalition-forming can serve as a mechanism to secure a better implementation of fairer rules, and at the same time, flanking policies are necessary to redistribute the benefits of economic growth from trade and to build supply capacities, she added.
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