Ir. Umiyatun Hayatitriastuti, M.Sc.
ECOSOC SPRING MEETING WITH BWIS, WTO, AND UNCTAD
Roundtable Discussion on Supporting Development Efforts and Enhancing the Role of Middle Income Countries, Including in the Area of Trade
NEW YORK, 14 APRIL 2008
The main lesson of recent financial crises, dating from the 1990s up to the present sub-prime mortgage crisis that creates conditions for a global recession, prove the weakness of international global economy and financial governance. The Middle income countries (MICs) are now a growing economic force in the globalized economy. The MICs are not immune from the impact of financial crisis. The integration of their economic to global market makes the MICs more vulnerable to external shock.
At present, the MICs find themselves at an awkward phase of their evolution. They are sufficiently strong to have bright economic prospects but limited in many respects to still require international support and assistance to keep developing. The inclination of the international community however is to focus primarily, almost exclusively, on the other category of developing states. There is no specific multilateral forum which attends to the needs of MICs. Even so, their special concerns are overlooked by the international community. They have limited access to ODA and protectionist trade barriers deny them easy access to developed markets.
However, recent international conferences dealing with the problems facing MICs have given cause for optimism. They have served to shed light on MICs problems and to emphasize that special attention must be paid to their concerns. Without strong international support, their development processes are put at risk of backsliding into underdevelopment. There are examples of such regression. It would therefore help if there was a biennial UN international conference to assess the progress being made in the MICs and to determine what sort of additional assistance they might need to continue moving forward.
Forming part of the international support system for MICs development should be a special UN agency or office dedicated to the concerns and needs of the MICs. This body should assist MICs to play a greater role in international policy and decision-making activities. For their part, the MICs could collaborate more bilaterally and inter-regionally to penetrate developed markets. In addition, more developed MICs with economies in transition could invest more in less developed countries in order to stimulate economic growth in there area.
The international development cooperation system should also facilitate their progress in the area of trade, which has long been described as an engine of growth. As such, the rules governing world trade should be adjusted to allow the MICs to benefit from genuinely free and fair trade. In addition, every obstacle to the Doha Development Round should be removed expeditiously.
But to increase their trading capacity, the MICs should have greater access to capital markets and should benefit from debt relief in the form of technology transfers and trade facilities. Democratically operated IFIs and the Bretton Woods Institutions should not hesitate to take the development ambitions of the MICs on board. Also, they should ensure the liquidity concerns of the MICs are met to avoid future financial/monetary crises.
I thank you.
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