Tuesday, April 16, 2019

ECOSOC forum calls for multilateral trading system reform

The 2019 Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) financing for development forum opened yesterday where the participants called for efforts to reform the multilateral trading system. Many of the attendees' speeches started with stating economic risks and tensions which the world currently faces.
ECOSOC president Inga Rhonda King said that "debt levels have risen, as has a vulnerability, stifling investment in developing countries, trade tensions meanwhile are dampening economic growth."
In his remarks, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres spotlighted the threats posed by heightened global trade tensions, possible economic challenges and rising greenhouse, gas emissions.
UN General Assembly president Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces said that the economic climate has worsened, which is among the most pressing global challenges. "Financial markets are volatile: 30 developing countries are at risk or facing financial difficulties, while trade imbalances have increased over the last year," she added.
The global expansion seen in recent years continues, but at a slower pace than previously anticipated, said deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Zhang Tao also calling for efforts to produce stronger medium-term growth.
In order to address these challenges, multiple approaches, particularly those regarding trade system, have been suggested by the participants.
The multilateral trading system must be bolstered, with a focus on ensuring that capacity-building and technology transfer are carried out, the UNGA president said adding that developing countries must be prioritised.
Noting that there is time to close finance gaps, the UNGA president pressed countries that made official development assistance commitments to keep them.
"No issue looms larger than trade," Zhang said, calling for efforts to reform the multilateral trading system and to reduce tensions.
He also called for an urgent redesign of global taxation efforts, noting that the current situation of widespread tax evasion is especially harmful to developing countries. In addition, some 40 percent of those countries find themselves in a situation of debt distress, requiring more sustainable financing practices.
Chef de Cabinet and principal advisor to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) director-general Tim Yeend emphasised the important role of trade in generating the resources needed to finance the 2030 Agenda. He said that there is ample evidence of the importance of trade in helping countries harness growth for development, notably in supporting job creation, raising per capita income and reducing poverty.
The integration of developing countries into the multilateral trade system, by providing access to new technologies and investments, has catalysed a 'take-off', he stressed, noting the importance of ensuring that such gains are not undone by today's challenges, which are among the most complex in a generation.
Until tensions among the largest countries are resolved, economic uncertainty will likely persist, Yeend said, adding that there is the potential for improving the global trade forecast, but it depends on reducing tensions and focusing on charting a positive path forward for trade.

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