Small island developing States (SIDS) need international support more than ever in their efforts to build resilient economies, according to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
‘UNCTAD welcomes the sustainable development of SIDS through genuine and durable partnerships,’ said Mukhisa Kituyi ahead of the global launch of the International Year of Small Island Developing States in February. ‘The most genuine form of partnership in favour of SIDS would be the recognition by development partners of the validity of SIDS status. This is a natural avenue to enacting international support measures that tackle the specific obstacles SIDS face.’
This is the first time the UN has dedicated an International Year to a category of countries. SIDS face human resources and institutional limitations and are more susceptible to economic and natural shocks. UNCTAD research has shown they are 30% more economically vulnerable than non-SIDS developing countries.
The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States will be held in Samoa in September.
Global economic growth should increase over the next two years amid continuing signs of improvement, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects 2014 (WESP) report released in January. The world economy is expected to expand by 3% this year and 3.3% in 2015 compared with estimated growth of 2.1% last year. Inflation will be tame while the employment situation remains challenging, the report states.
The positive outlook follows subdued growth in the world economy for a second year in 2013, though conditions improved in the fourth quarter. The euro area finally ended a protracted recession while growth in the United States of America strengthened. Some emerging economies, including China and India, have experienced moderate improvements.
Preparations are underway for the 2014 China (Beijing) International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), which will take place between 28 May and 1 June.
CIFTIS, launched in 2012, is the world's only comprehensive trading platform that covers 12 fields of trade in services. The annual event is hosted by China's Ministry of Commerce and organized by Beijing’s municipal government. The 2013 gathering attracted more than 1,900 enterprises, 30 of which belonged to the Fortune 500. Some 138,000 visitors from 117 countries and regions attended the fair, as did 119 government officials, heads of international organizations and ambassadors.
The event focuses on business matching and project-based discussions aimed at promoting cooperation between Chinese and foreign trade services companies.
UNCTAD and the International Trade Centre (ITC) will join forces to help developing countries implement the recently approved World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 4 March to formalize the collaboration.
The agencies will develop a programme focused particularly on least developed countries. Their cooperation will initially concentrate on helping countries identify and categorize their TFA commitments and supporting implementation of its transparency provisions. These include easier access to information for traders; helping to develop legislation supporting advance rulings and rights of appeal; and facilitating more predictable procedures.
‘The Trade Facilitation Agreement is a real opportunity for developing countries, but only if they can put its provisions into practice,’ said ITC Executive Director Arancha González.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi highlighted the importance of cooperation between the organizations. ‘The two agencies complement each other very well and can offer meaningful support to developing countries together,’ he said.