UNCTAD is fortunate to have the celebration
of its fortieth anniversary coincide with its eleventh quadrennial
conference, to be held in São Paulo, Brazil, this June.
The two events can complement one another, providing renewed
impetus to our work.
In the 40 years since UNCTAD was founded, the
international environment has been radically transformed by
globalization, and the problems experienced by developing
countries today require innovative approaches. UNCTAD XI offers
the opportunity to address those problems and define the type
of national and multilateral measures needed to ensure that
integration into the world economy yields real development
gains for developing countries. Open trade regimes and financial
markets alone are not enough.
The fact is that in many developing countries,
conventional, market based policies have not lived up to expectations
in terms of promoting sustainable development and poverty
reduction. An impressive trade performance in Latin America,
for example, has failed to offset the impact of six years
of negative per capita growth, and there are 20 million more
poor people today than in 1997. Latin America is thus a very
appropriate venue for UNCTAD XI, which will explore how to
harness the power of trade for development and poverty reduction.
Much-needed attention will also be given to the relationship
between trade and gender issues and to the potential that
lies in the development of creative industries in developing
The conference will in addition look at how
to improve the supply capacity of developing countries. Even
in those few areas where developing countries have acquired
meaningful market access through global trade negotiations,
in many cases they cannot take advantage of it because of
domestic supply constraints and bottlenecks or because of
their dependence on volatile commodity markets. Locally tailored
strategies are needed to overcome these shortcomings, as is
policy flexibility on international trade rules. Finally,
there is a need to strengthen the coherence between national
development strategies and global economic processes, so as
to ensure gains from trade. Forging the link between trade
and development is the central mission of UNCTAD XI.
Secretary-General of UNCTAD
Geneva, April 2004