UNECA urges China, developing countries to join forces to tackle trade challenges

Claver Gatete Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). [Courtesy]

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has stated that the Group of 77 countries plus China serves as a significant platform for developing nations to ensure their collective voices are heard.

UNECA Executive Secretary Claver Gatete emphasized that this aligns with the principle of 'Leaving No One Behind', which should guide the actions of countries worldwide during times of multiple crises.

Established in 1964, the G77 comprises developing countries from Asia, Africa, and Central and South America, with over 130 members to date.

Mr Gatete represented the five UN Regional Economic Commissions at the recent Third South Summit in Kampala, Uganda.

The summit, centred around the theme of "Leaving no one Behind," aimed to foster a new level of cooperation among the 134 member states of the G77 in an increasingly competitive world.

Mr Gatete highlighted the critical role of the unified voice of the G77 plus China and the essential convening role of the regional commissions in the upcoming Summit of the Future.

He also emphasized that the concept of "leave no one behind" extends beyond the North-South divide, encompassing the fundamental rights and dignity of all individuals.

The North-South divide refers to the gap between developed nations in the Northern Hemisphere and developing countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Global North, consisting mainly of affluent developed countries, enjoys higher living standards, stronger economies, greater access to resources and technology, and more stable political systems.

Conversely, the Global South faces challenges such as poverty, inequality, limited infrastructure, environmental degradation, and political instability.

Mr Gatete stressed that in the current era of heightened multilateralism, the leadership role of the G77 plus China is of utmost importance.

The ECA executive secretary noted that the regional commissions, established by resolutions of the Economic and Social Council to promote regional development remain committed to the spirit of partnership across the global divide, “as we work together to leave no one behind.”

There are five regional commissions: ECA: Economic Commission for Africa; ECE: Economic Commission for Europe; ECLAC: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean; ESCAP: Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and ESCWA: Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.

He highlighted three key areas illustrating the regional commissions’ role in contributing to the principle of Leaving No one Behind and assessing the sources of vulnerabilities in developing countries.

One is the deficit of industrialisation which prevents the creation of decent jobs to tackle poverty adequately.

“Many developing countries, especially in Africa, still export primary commodities and import manufactured goods, leading to significant external deficits, high debt levels and narrow fiscal space for basic social needs,” he said.

The second is the exposure to the negative effects of climate change. “It is ironic that those in the global south who contribute the least suffer the worst consequences. And the global response falls short, leading to protectionist policies,” he said.

The third is the deficit in technological development that could lead to a further global divide.

He recognized the efforts of all the regional commissions in working together to advance the global discussions on loss and damage that led to the pledge of more than US$ 700 million to the loss and damage fund.

“ECA has been working to strengthen the capacities of our member states to establish carbon credit markets. It does not make sense for African countries to earn less than $10 per tonne of carbon whilst countries in Europe earn over $100,” said Mr Gatete.

ECA has also been working jointly with the African Union and member countries, during the first-ever Africa Climate Summit hosted by Kenya.

“We were able to determine the priorities and actions needed to help the continent address pressing climate needs,” he said.

“We are supporting the implementation of the great Blue Wall initiative in the western part of the Indian Ocean that will lead to income-generating opportunities for more than 70 million people.”

He also highlighted ongoing support for the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement and the African Union Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa (2020–2030), as master plans for transforming the continent, as well as ongoing work with member States on a common Africa voice on the Global Digital Compact.

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