UN trade meet is chance to reset world economy: host

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 06 2020 05:57 AM | Updated as of Aug 06 2020 08:08 AM

GENEVA - The postponed ministerial gathering of the UN Conference on Trade and Development will take place in Barbados in April 2021, organizers said Wednesday, tasked with rebuilding economies battered by the coronavirus crisis.

The quadrennial UNCTAD conference will be a "window of opportunity" to reset the way international trade operates, organizers said.

The UN organization's 15th ministerial conference was initially scheduled for October 2020 in Barbados but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will now be held in the Caribbean island's capital Bridgetown next April 25-30.

"The COVID-19 global emergency and its extreme repercussions have exposed the need for a fundamental rethinking of many of the assumptions that previously underpinned the international economic order," Mia Mottley, the prime minister of Barbados, said at a virtual signing ceremony for the hosting agreement.

"The crisis has provided the UNCTAD membership with a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of the new thinking and radical policy corrections that the situation now requires," she added.

The conference is the highest decision-making body of Geneva-based UNCTAD, which counts 195 member states and reports to the UN General Assembly.

Besides the climbing death toll -- now above 700,000 -- the pandemic has caused deep economic damage around the world.

"The global trading system has been woefully unprepared for this global health crisis," said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi.

"UNCTAD 15 will shape the ambitions for a better recovery. Countries have realized the devastating limits of current development practices," the Kenyan former trade minister said.

"This gives us a window of opportunity to build the political will towards the systemic changes needed for truly better recovery, despite the current steep obstacles to international solidarity," he said.

According to UNCTAD's estimates, developing countries need $2.5 trillion immediately to start tackling the damage caused by the pandemic.