Statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China by Mr. Abdullah Abushawesh, Counsellor at the Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
At the outset, the Group would like to thank the Secretary-General, UNCTAD and DESA for the reports submitted under this important agenda item, which will surely help enrich our deliberations.
It is undeniable that international trade is an engine for inclusive economic growth, poverty eradication and promotion of sustainable development in developing countries; and a critical means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs and one of the 7 action areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. In this context, the Group stresses the significance of the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries in harnessing the developmental benefit of international trade, to facilitate the integration of their economies to the multilateral trading system and the fulfillment of the obligations and commitments under the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The Group reiterates that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement adopted under the UNFCCC, the New Urban Agenda and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, as well as major outcome documents in relation to countries in special situations, shall be implemented in their integrity and totality, and the commitments enshrined in them shall be honored, in line with the principles of multilateralism and international cooperation.
The Secretary-General's report has pointed while annual trade growth for 2018 was strong overall, it slowed in the second half of the year. More importantly, UNCTAD data indicate the stagnation of the value of international trade in the first quarter of 2019. The report also reveals that the multilateral trade cooperation under a rules-based system has come under increasing pressure from unilateral actions, trade disputes and bilateral trade deals focusing on short-term interests and circumventing multilateral processes; and the ongoing trade tensions mean that the original projections indicating growth in world trade in 2019 may have been too optimistic. The Group notes with deep concern the increase in the unilateral and protectionist measures, which run counter to the spirit and rules of the WTO and the purposes and principles of the UN, and reiterates the need to continue to fight all forms of protectionism.
The Group therefore, reaffirms that universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system must be promoted and strengthened, allowing developing countries to effectively engage in global trade and improve their financing capacity to enhance development. In this connection, the Group reaffirms that the imposition of coercive economic measures, including unilateral sanctions, against developing countries, does not contribute to economic and social development, including dialogue and understanding among countries, and we reiterate the urgent need to eliminate them immediately.
Against this backdrop, cognizant of the upcoming 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, and in line with the previous practices, the Group will propose a pragmatic, streamlined and forward-looking resolution that contributes to the promotion of a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the WTO.
The Group acknowledges the links between investment, trade and development in today's global economy, as well as the need for closer international cooperation at the global level to create a more transparent, efficient, and predictable environment for development-oriented cross-border investment. On this note, the Group emphasizes the importance of improving investment and financing into sectors that are critical to accelerating the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in developing countries and encourages in this regard, private and public sectors investors to take steps to address SDG investment gaps.
Furthermore, the Group firmly believes that a stronger and more resilient economic growth is needed to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions and boost shared and collective prosperity. In this regard, the Group emphasizes the need for developed countries to provide further support to developing countries, including the transfer of technology, capacity building and financing, and to avoid a build-up of unsustainable debt, taking into account the challenges posed by the global economic environment and risks for debt sustainability. The Group therefore calls upon the international community to fulfill their commitments in order to create the enabling environment that mobilizes the international resources needed to bring forth the effective support required by developing countries in attaining long-term debt sustainability.
The Group also notes that parts of the multilateral financial system are under strain, increasing debt in developing countries, a decline in correspondent banking relationships that enables the provision of domestic and cross border payments can hamper efforts to reduce the costs of trade finance and remittances. Current trends casts doubt on the capacity of the current multilateral financial and economic architecture to address these global challenges. There must be collective action at the global level to reverse these negative trends. Therefore, structural changes are urgently needed to address these challenges, we call for strengthened international coordination and policy coherence to enhance global financial and macroeconomic stability.
Moreover, the Group recognizes with concern that there is still no single global inclusive forum for tax cooperation at the intergovernmental level. We note that the Secretary General's report indicated Member's States emphasis that efforts in international tax cooperation should become universal in approach and scope and fully take into account the needs and capacities of all countries. We reiterate our call for the upgrading of the Committee of Experts in Tax Matters to an intergovernmental body with experts representing their respective governments.
The Group also wishes to stress the importance of eliminating safe havens that create incentives for the transfer abroad of stolen assets and illicit financial flows. We recognize that IFFs have harmful effect on countries' ability to finance their development priorities. It is in this regard that we welcome the first High-Level Meeting convened by the PGA on "International cooperation to combat illicit financial flows and strengthen good practices on asset return", held on 16 May 2019. We wish to emphasize the importance of strengthening the regulatory framework at all levels in accordance with international standards. We look forward to building on the momentum created by the PGA's meeting to continued discussion on IFFs. We call on all countries to redouble efforts to substantially reduce IFFs by 2030, and to increase international cooperation and enhance disclosure practices and transparency in both source and destination countries.
The Group is concerned that many Commodity-Dependent Developing Countries continue to be highly vulnerable to extreme commodity price fluctuations, and recognizes the need to continue efforts to diversify economies, as well as to improve the regulation, efficiency, responsiveness, functioning and transparency of financial and commodity markets nationally, regionally and internationally in order to address excessive commodity price volatility. We stress that revenues from commodity production and exports remain critical for developing countries, in particular in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, given that mobilization of resources to developing countries is needed in order to achieve the SDGs.
Moreover, the Group recognizes the financial inclusion as an enabler of the sustainable development goals, and as a means for, inter alia, eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, empowering women and youth, promoting micro-small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), sustainable agriculture and economic growth, and for reducing inequalities; therefore, we stress on the importance of promoting financial literacy, ensuring consumer's protection, and applying fintech instruments in order to meet the SDGs. The Group further recognizes the need to continue efforts to reduce the transaction costs of migrant remittances to less than 3 per cent by 2030 and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5 per cent by 2030, to support national authorities in addressing the most significant obstacles to the continued flow of remittances
With regard to item 18, the Group stresses that the achievement of the SDGs requires adequate and predictable financing and a bold approach to development finance - one that significantly increases long-term, public and private investments, combat illicit financial flows, while aligning national and international financing system with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Furthermore, in order to unlock private finance, trade opportunities and technological development, the international public finance should complement and facilitate regional and national efforts to address policy coherence at national, regional and international levels and develop global environment conducive to private sector development to ensure that investment will have a significant impact on growth and development. Yet, the Group notes with concern that there has not been sufficient action at global, regional or national level to unlock financing for SDG attainment, as a result of both funding unavailability or lack of capacity to access it.
In closing, Mr. Chair, the Group stresses on the importance of taking concrete and immediate actions to create the necessary enabling environment at all levels for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and accelerate national and international efforts to implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
I thank you.