The United Nations Conference for Trade and Development 14th edition kicked off in Nairobi, Kenya on Sunday 17th of July 2016 and the weeklong conference will come to an end on Friday 22nd July 2016.
United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is a permanent Intergovernmental body established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1964. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland with other offices in New York and Addis Ababa. UNCTAD is part of the UN secretariat that reports to the UN General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. As a member of the UNDG, UNCTAD has its own membership, leadership and budget.
The quadrennial event is taking place in Kenya for the second time the last being held here back in 1976. This year’s theme is From Decisions to Actions and features ministerial debates, high-level round tables, a World Investment Forum, Global Commodities Forum, Youth Forum, Civil Society Forum and among other events.
Advantech was represented by team member Maurice Njoroge during this World Investment Forum event held on the 19th of July 2016. The theme for this particular event was Transforming economies for sustainable and inclusive growth. The high level event was graced by a table of panelists heading trade ministerial dockets in South Africa and Nigeria as well as senior delegates from trade organizations of the UN and accomplished private sector and public sector organizations.
The main takeaways from the various session speakers of the event were that in order for LDCs (Least Developed Countries) to transform their economies and bolster growth the following issues had to be addressed:
- Creation of integrated value chains- sentiments by H.E Rob Davies Minister for Trade and Industry South Africa emphasized on LDCs especially here in Africa need to embrace the creation and sustainability of large regional markets such as SADC, ECOWAS, EAC and other regional blocs so as to benefit from access to larger market spaces compared to what in country markets have to offer. He also challenged global players to rethink how Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is channeled to LDCs highlighting that it needs to create the best trickle-down effect in value chain rather than benefit larger corporations where a very big portion of FDI has been going to enable Mergers and Acquisitions.
- Need for structural reforms locally and globally- to create sustainable growth, first and foremost leaders must learn to take an individual responsibility for this mandate, were the words and thoughts of H.E Okenchukwu Enelamah Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment Nigeria. He was of the opinion that global implementation of good governance is a catalyst for creating the conducive environment for sustainable growth piggybacked on the implementation of domestic reforms. Further, he mentioned that the precursors for economic development are trade and growth.
- Call for inspired leadership and open data- James Donovan CEO of ADEC Innovations stated that in his view the key driver of sustainable growth via technology is inspired leadership by championing for open data by governments. He also advocated for the formation of rebranded Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) to bridge the gap in technology advancement. Use of social media for communication and collaboration and organizational incentives to spur growth were his final remarks on sustainable growth.
- Positive Economic Health- In the wake of the global economic rejuvenation, Mr. Kurt Tong Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs USA categorically stated that formation of new business is the backbone on which attaining positive economic health for sustainable growth will be pegged on. He mentioned the role of incubator approaches as the future for growth of new businesses. He also outlined diaspora relocations for development as an avenue that may enable sustainable growth in LDCs and finally the need for seed capital (funding) for ideas to accelerate the coming to life of new businesses.
- Investment for SDGs- Reform is for all across the globe and not for select countries were the words citing the contribution from Mr. Chutintorn Gongaskdi Director General Department of Economic Affairs Thailand. He stressed that governments need to make a daily effort towards the fulfillment of SDGs following an intensive year of preparation and unveiling of the SDGs in 2015. He referenced the success of the Village Fund initiative in his native country of Thailand as being a great resource for low-cost funding for the Thai people.
- Building productive capacities for developing countries- Leveraging additional resources, public and private sector role in growth and access to funding for youth and women groups were the main issues Mr. Ratnakar Adhikari Executive Director, Executive Secretariat for the Enhanced Integrated Framework, WTO touched on during his address. On leveraging additional resources, he was of the opinion that developing countries should lobby for development aid as well as their own government resources to create growth for their economies. Based on these leveraged resources he stated that the role of the public sector was to develop infrastructure and technology where LDCs lag behind in funding while it was vital for private sector players to mobilize their resources in solidarity to fund the growth of these areas. His final remarks maintained that sustainable growth would be accelerated by access to funding for youth and women led businesses through MFIs and other subsidiary lending institutions.
In summary, the high level inter-ministerial and stakeholder event on transforming economies for sustainable and inclusive growth was concluded with the following issues taking center stage during the session and left for review in future related forums. They are: Formation of PPPs, Access to Financing, Trade policy frameworks, Use of large data, Future of Internet of Things (IOT) and Taxation where governments through their exchequers need to rethink pay on demand models to raise more revenue.