Creation of a Global Trade Facility

AsiaSource.org interviews Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), on September 14, 2006.

Excerpt: … Question: At a recent UNCTAD meeting, Joseph Stiglitz argued for the creation of a Global Trade Facility and said, “Financial assistance to help poorer nations cope with increasingly open world trade- a concept known as “aid for trade” – should be expanded, quantified and guaranteed by industrialized countries.” Do you think that efforts along these lines have thus far been adequate?

Answer: The members of WTO have mandated Director-General Lamy to work on the concept by setting up a task force. The task force had already completed its work in July. So at the moment we are looking at the report of the task force and in the next couple of months WTO, together with Bretton Woods institutions and UN agencies, will try to come to grips with the implementation part of it.

The task force has determined the scope that covers nearly all the areas that Joseph Stiglitz has been mentioning. We agree with that at UNCTAD, we think it will have to be an extensive comprehensive coverage, covering the loss of revenues, erosion of preferences, the need to implement new commitments, new rules and things like that. So it has to be comprehensive.

The problem that we have to solve at the moment – and again, Lamy is looking at it – is that the sources of the funds will have to be secure and the funds will have to be arranged in a way that they should not create new debts for the participating countries. Because, again, you have to go back and try to do debt relief again. We don’t want to be in that kind of vicious circle. So we are proposing that it must be a grant type of fund. And it must be substantial enough to help substantially in all these areas which Stiglitz has been talking about. (Read the rest of this long interview on AsiaSource.org).

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