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Jordanian Capital Hosts Eighth Session of Technical Committee on Liberalization of Foreign Trade, Economic Globalization and Financing for Development in the Countries of ESCWA Region


The Jordanian capital, Amman, hosted the Eighth Session of the Technical Committee on Liberalization of Foreign Trade, Economic, Globalization and Financing for Development in the Countries of the ESCWA Region from 7 to 8 October 2013. Attending the Session meetings were representatives of ministries of finance, ministries of economy, and central banks of member countries. Also present were representatives of relevant regional and international organizations. Delivering the opening statement of ESCWA, Senior Economist and Director of the ESCWA Economic Development and Globalization Division Abdallah Al Dardari noted three priorities to be highlighted, the first being infrastructure development and the enhancement of the investment climate. According to studies ESCWA conducted recently, the Arab region needs massive infrastructure investments, he added. Estimates show that investing a billion US dollars in infrastructure-related projects generates 110 thousand employment opportunities in oil-importing countries, 49 thousand employment opportunities in emerging, oil-exporting countries, and 26 thousand employment opportunities in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The second priority Al Dardari mentioned was the provision of comprehensive funding for all. It is now imperative to increase support to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and assist them in obtaining financing and loans and providing their own training. As for the third priority, it is to focus on increasing productivity, which stimulates foreign trade and increases competitiveness. The session aimed to provide a forum to review the progress achieved in the Arab region towards implementing the “Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development”, and the repercussions of the global financial crisis and political developments in some countries of the region and offer recommendations to decision makers in member countries to support efforts to finance development, and tackle the economic recession and the repercussions of political developments. It also aimed to help member countries discuss the implementation of the ESCWA programme of work for the biennium 2014-2015 in the fields of liberalization of foreign trade, economic globalization and financing for development. Participants discussed the efforts undertaken by member countries to establish public-private partnerships to finance development, as well as fiscal issues and policies in Arab countries, including ways to strengthen the financial capacity of these countries and to harmonize financial policies. The session included two round-table discussions: the first addressed financing for development and the “Monterrey Consensus”, while the second discussed the Rabat Declaration on Public-Private Partnerships to Finance Infrastructure Projects in Arab Countries, which was issued at the expert group meeting organized by ESCWA on Unlocking Infrastructure Investments and Mobilizing Financial Resources in the Arab Region (Rabat, 17-18 April 2013). The Technical Committee on Liberalization of Foreign Trade, Economic Globalization and Financing for Development in the Countries of the ESCWA Region was established pursuant to ESCWA resolution 214 (XIX) of 7 May 1997, which was endorsed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in resolution 1997/12 of 18 July 1997. The aims of establishing the Committee are: to contribute to the identification of concerns and priorities of ESCWA member countries with respect to multilateral trade agreements and negotiations; to monitor developments in global trade negotiations and the establishment of economic and trade blocs, and coordinate the positions of member countries in that regard; to cooperate with the ESCWA secretariat in developing programmes to assist the countries of the region in designing appropriate national and regional policies for economic development to enable these countries take greater advantage of the trends towards liberalization of foreign trade and economic globalization; to develop joint programmes for training, information exchange and research with the countries of the region, in cooperation with other regional and international organizations. New Sources of Development Finance in the Arab Region Amman had also hosted the expert group meeting on “New Sources of Development Finance in the Arab Region” on 6-7 October 2013. The overall objective of this meeting was to explore new financial means and ways to raise financial resources for development in the Arab region, with the chief aim of enhancing the productivity of the economic sectors and consequently increase available job opportunities. The meeting provided a platform for researchers, practitioners as well as other stakeholders to share their experiences regarding the role of innovative funding approaches in supporting development projects. Participants took the opportunity to analyze determinants of the successful implementation of the various funding schemes and discuss difficulties hindering the performance and scaling up of the various approaches. Deliberations tackled the means by which these resources can be channeled to support development in the region and thus contribute to sustainable and equitable growth. New Sources of Development Finance in the Arab Region