Ministers discuss growth, poverty reduction policies
DOHA AN interactive dialogue between ministers, experts and practitioners was held on Sunday with the aim of preparing a document which would then be used as a basis for reformulating Unctad’s research and analysis work in the areas of trade and poverty reduction.
Speaking at the panel discussion, Ransford Smith, deputy secretary-general of the Commonwealth Secretariat said that “there is no invariable blueprint for development, and even healthy Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth has failed to place the Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) on the road to a sustainable development”.
“We cannot simply take a prescription off the shelf and apply it in any situation,” Smith said.
He argued that trade openness, which is generally considered critical to development, is not enough to guarantee economic growth. Instead, what is more pertinent is the quality of the country’s participation in world markets.
Botswana’s Minister of Trade and Industry Dorcas Makgato-Malesu discussed the economic strategies which enabled her country to become the first to move out the LDC status in 1994. These included the establishment of a national bank and currency, improving the competitiveness of exports (and particularly diamonds, which account for 75 percent of Botswana’s GDP), increasing the role of the private sector and the adherence to the principles of good governance and democracy.
Heidi Hautala, minister for international development of Finland; Pan Sorasak, secretary of state of Cambodia; Cheick Sidi Diarra, UN special adviser on Africa and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States; Siti Kassim, minister of employment of the Union of the Comoros; Dr Tony Addison, deputy director of UN University-WIDER; and Nada al Nashif, assistant director-general and regional director for the Arab States of the International Labour Organization were present at the session. Spokesman for Unctad XIII, Taffere Tesfachew, who was attending on behalf of Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, Unctad secretary-general, was present on the occasion.
Considerable progress has been made in the reduction of absolute poverty in developing countries, in particular in the two decades prior to the onset of the recent global financial and economic crisis in 2008. While a majority of this reduction took place in Asia, especially China, many other developing countries that were locked into low or negative rates of growth in the earlier two decades were also able to achieve sustained economic growth as well as some reductions in the incidence of poverty.
However, despite record high growth rates and impressive trade performance, a large proportion of citizens in the developing world, in particular the LDCs still live in extreme poverty.