Increased assistance vital for recovery from crisis

KATHMANDU: Increased assistance for trade-led development is vital for Asia and the world to recover from the latest economic crisis and ensure long-term growth, Asian Development Bank (ADB) president Haruhiko Kuroda said while inaugurating the second Global Review of Aid for Trade in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday.

At the same time, it is ‘critically important’ that countries refrain from taking protectionist measures to try to insulate themselves from the effects of falling global demand, he said.

The gathering brought together Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank (WB), and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the heads of various multilateral development banks and other top trade and development officials to discuss progress on Aid for Trade since the first review in November 2007.

Aid for Trade, conceived in December 2005, is aimed at helping the least-developed countries around the world put in place the policies, infrastructure and skills necessary to

bolster trade which, in turn, boosts economic growth and helps to reduce poverty, said a press release issued from Geneva.

The Asia and Pacific region’s trade performance is mixed. While some countries are integrated into global business networks, the region’s 22 least-developed and smaller economies still account for just 0.3 per cent of world exports, a level that has barely changed in the last 25 years.

The global economic crisis has worsened the situation, with the sharp drop in the region’s exports expected to cause aggregate growth to decline to around 3.4 per cent this year.

While growth is anticipated to pick up to six per cent in 2010, lower-income countries and small states are likely to lag behind and rising poverty remains a major concern when the global economy recovers.

“Rebalancing growth toward greater domestic and regional demand is an important key to the region’s recovery. This will foster increased intra-regional trade, help the region recover faster and strengthen Asia’s approach to open regionalism. Aid for Trade is also vital for economic recovery and for long-term development and structural change,” Kuroda said.

ADB continues to support increased trade within the Asia and Pacific region. In the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), for example, it has financed roads across the six-country region and also standardized border regulations. ADB also earlier this year expanded its Trade Finance Facilitation Program from $150 million to $1 billion. The program, which extends loans and guarantees to support trade in frontier markets, could generate $15 billion in trade finance through 2013.

Second stint for UNCTAD chief

KATHMANDU: The UN General Assembly confirmed the appointment of Supachai Panitchpakdi to a second four-year term as Secretary-General of UNCTAD. His term will run from September 1, 2009 to August 31, 2013. “I am honoured to continue with the important work of this organization, especially,” Supachai said. Supachai studied in the Netherlands from 1963-1973 on the strength of a scholarship from the Bank of Thailand, receiving a Master’s Degree in econometrics and development planning and a PhD in economic and planning and development from the Netherlands School of Economics (now known as the Erasmus University) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Following completion of his doctoral dissertation, he was a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University, where he conducted research on development models. Supachai is the author of a number of books, including Educational Growth in Developing Countries (1974); Globalization and Trade in New Millennium (2001); and China and the WTO: Changing China, Changing World Trade (2002, co-authored with Mark Clifford). — HNS