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Nkoa 3By Sébastien Nkoa, economist and banker

As we are moving towards the end of what will enter into history as UNCTAD 14, negotiations are going on in Nairobi in order to get the final text of what will be called the “Nairobi Outcome” with two major instruments: a political declaration to be called “Nairobi Azimio and a negotiated text to be called “Nairobi Consensus. While representatives of various delegations are still discussing the final document, worries are already being brought forward regarding key issues that must be taken into account if a great outcome will be offered.

The first and most outstanding concern of UNCTAD 14 is about the meaning of UNCTAD itself. Indeed the future outcome document seems to suffer greatly from discussions which are going on threatening to dilute the meaning of UNCTAD itself. In that regard no adequate resources are put to the disposition of UNCTAD in order to achieve its mission. EU (European Union) wants to turn UNCTAD into a mere technical assistance organization. This new structure will have as its fundamental task more technical assistance toward members especially developing countries than as a forum of discussion on fundamental issues regarding development of trade commerce and technology around the world. In the same line, EU wants less intergovernmental interaction into the UNCTAD process. This approach takes out of the process controversial issues involving macro policy, finance, debt, illicit finance flows, and many others for which developing countries are really pushing in order to get justice on issues which make them lose a lot on international financial system.

The tax issue is pretty controversial since EU in line with the JUSCANZ group (Japan, United States, Canada, and New Zealand), wants just to put on the table a take-it-or-leave-it text that they hope developing countries will accept, a deal which is far from done. And this is where CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) reaffirm their stand to see key points reaffirmed with strong language.

Indeed since the last “Panama Papers scandal (involving high ranked governmental authorities all over the world as well as many multinationals), illicit finance flows and tax evasion have come back to the table as major issues which should be addressed. Besides this there is a need for a global structural transformation agenda, addressed at the global level and not just at the regional level of Africa. Issues faced by Africa have their roots from various corners of the world, not necessarily in Africa, and have also repercussions all over the world, not only in Africa. This is why a more inclusive development agenda (Agenda 2030) taking into account public services, gender equality, climate change, technology, youth, natural disaster, and policy security should be seen as a priority during discussions going on in Nairobi in these last days of a highly awaited conference.

While we are waiting for the final outcome document with its two major instruments, let us hope that the fruits will honor the expectations of their flowers, highly admired during preparation of the conference.

UNCTAD 14 en


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