Ladies and Gentlemen;
Members of the Press;
- Good afternoon to you all.
- I hope everybody enjoyed themselves at last night's fashion show, which highlighted Africa's and in particular Kenya's extraordinary creative talent. Trade is the mechanism by which we convert this talent into jobs and prosperity.
- Yesterday I pointed that I will provide more information on the e-data base that was launched yesterday by UNCTAD during the session on lowering hurdles for trade.
- As you all know, during the past decades, global tariff barriers in international trade have fallen significantly. The tariff on agricultural goods and industrial products have both declined, on average, from about 19.9 per cent to 6.7 per cent. This decline is due to multilateral trade negotiations both under the auspices of the WTO as well as under bilateral and regional arrangements.
- However, this event has subsequently raised the relative importance of Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) as both protectionist and regulatory trade instruments. Yesterday’s session on lowering trade hurdles focused particularly on this core issue. The common understanding from the discussions was that tariff liberalization alone has generally proven unsuccessful in providing genuine market access drawing further attention to non-tariff measures (NTMs) as major determinants in restricting market access.
- Non-tariff measures include a very diverse array of policies that countries apply to imported and exported goods. UNCTAD has been actively involved in research and programmatic activities on issues related to non-tariff measures since the 1990s when the Secretariat began to collect and classify NTMs according to a customized Coding System of Trade Control Measures (TCMCS) from official sources.
- UNCTAD therefore launched a single database on Non-Tariff Measures that aims to lower trade costs. It contains statistics on 56 countries. In this regard, investors will now have access to countries’ trade data that is expected to enhance transparency on how countries trade. This will help advance the agenda of eliminating barriers.
- Other key issues emerging from the ongoing discussions in the conference include the role of women as agents for economic change. Yesterday’s debate underlined the need to empower women to invest in smallholder farming, food security, agricultural upgrading and rural economic diversification.
- Closely related to this was the debate relating to trade and creative livelihoods (creative economy). The creative economy has emerged as one of the fastest growing sector in the world. Consensus worldwide is that creativity and innovation are now driving the new economy. Organizations and even regions that embrace creativity generate significantly higher revenue and provide greater stability into the future.
- In this regard, UNCTAD through the creative economy network has proactively facilitated the sharing of knowledge and best practices, forging strategic alliances and networking among governments, creators, the business community and the civil society.
- This morning, we had a High Level CEOs matchmaking session which was attended by CEOs from various regions in the world. The session, among other things, focused on issues relating to business partnership across borders, investment opportunities and doing business in Africa. The session provided a great opportunity for short business match-making sessions to deepen business discussions and dealings that would be of interest to UNCTAD, Kenya, Africa and the rest of the world.
- Turning to the ongoing negotiations on the draft outcome document, we are progressing well and delegations are showing flexibility on some of the issues under discussion. We are hoping to conclude the negotiations in good time. I will provide more details on this once the negotiations are concluded.
- As I conclude, the debate on competition and particularly the role of competition in regional integration as well as best practises for Africa is taking place today. Complementary to this is the topic relating to empowering consumers and fostering competition to transform markets. Competition and consumer protection policies are central tools not only to make more efficient markets but to ensure that markets work for the benefit of all.
- Inclusive prosperity requires us to put much more emphasis on the welfare of consumers and citizens. The discussions will identify what is needed to bolster competition and consumer policies, including the regulatory and institutional frameworks that best promote good business practices, address markets failures, level the playing field, uphold consumer rights, and foster international cooperation.
- Finally, I will continue to update on the key issues from this conference.
I thank you