Since 2012, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has published a Report on the issue of Trade and Development on an annual basis. Within the scope of an event, the Representatives of civil society and UNCTAD discussed the Report as well as the question as to what the way out of the crisis towards well-being for all might look like.
It is the self-declared goal of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which was founded in 1964, to give countries of the Global South access to the benefits of a globalised economy, to shield against any possible disadvantages of a more integrated economy and to promote well-being for all people. The progress made, will be benchmarked against the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Every four years, Member States gather at a conference to discuss topical questions and to formulate global political answers. The next conference has been scheduled for early October 2021 on Barbados.
Warning against “lost decade”
Within the scope of a webinar, hosted by the Third World Network on 21 January 2021, Richard Kozul-Wright, Director of the Globalisation and Development Strategies Division in United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, pointed out that the focus of the Report should originally have been on climate change and measures such as a global Green New Deal. Instead, it is now focussing on the continuing Coronavirus crisis.
Kozul-Wright pointed out that warnings of an extremely fragile economic situation and a recession had already been issued at the end of 2019,. After the bursting of the Dotcom bubble and the financial crisis, the third major economic crisis of the 21st century, would surpass its two predecessors with regard to extent and scale and could result in another “lost decade”. However, to prevent this, it was necessary to, on the one hand, make jobs and wages the main focus, and on the other to emphasise the key role of public services, apart from making comprehensive environmental investments.
Neoliberalism responsible for damages
Sylvester Bagooro, Third World Network Africa, referred to the devastating damage, which decades of neoliberal policies had inflicted in particular on Africa. The African economy, for example, had not been in a position to produce urgently required protective equipment at home and had therefore been forced to rely on imports from abroad. Deborah James, Our World is not for Sale Network, addressed, among other, digital trade and intellectual property rights as challenges, which, not least because of an increasingly rapid digitalisation and the production of a vaccine against Coronavirus, also gained momentum. However, with regard to UNCTAD, the question would remain, which role it could and should play in the future, given the fact that over the years the scope for civil society organisations within the Conference has been significantly diminished.
Meanwhile, a recent Oxfam Study is making the headlines, revealing how the continuing Coronavirus crisis exacerbates social inequality – for the first time, almost all countries are faced with the danger of its rise – and why the solution can only be found in a just economic system.
AK for a just and fair global economy
The Austrian Chamber of Labour too comes to the conclusion that the pandemic has exposed the weak spots of the global economic system. However, the causes and deficits of the ongoing legitimation crisis of the current trade and investment policy are rooted even deeper, being aggravated by the EU’s current agenda in this area. In view of the Coronavirus crisis, instead of concentrating on direct political corrections, the EU must fundamentally realign its trade and investment policies. It is essential to ensure a just and fair global economy, which puts the common good of all above the profit interests of individuals. Hence, the strategic autonomy aimed at by the EU must not only be open, but above all prosperity-led.
A&W Blog: Why we need a global Green New Deal (German only)