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UN forum on trade reaches deal

Saturday July 23 2016

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi speaks during the 14th session of the conference at KICC in Nairobi on July 18, 2016. he has been confirmed as UNCTAD boss for another four-year term. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi speaks during the 14th session of the conference at KICC in Nairobi on July 18, 2016. he has been confirmed as UNCTAD boss for another four-year term. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

AGGREY MUTAMBO
By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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United Nations member states meeting in Nairobi last evening endorsed two crucial documents that will provide a set of trade and development issues to be tackled in the next four years.

This means that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) will be charged with advising on policies related to the implementation of the development targets reached by the UN, monitoring adoption of a recent climate change deal as well as other decisions relating to trade and financial discipline of states.

The two papers: ‘Nairobi Azimio’ and the ‘Nairobi Maafikiano’ appeared like a compromise deal reached after days of haggling and refusal to adjust positions by delegates.

For developing nations like Kenya, the Unctad will be charged with advising on how to localise recent global targets adopted by member states.

“Unctad should contribute, through its three pillars of work, to the implementation, monitoring and review of the 2030 Agenda, especially the relevant targets in areas of trade and development and interrelated areas of finance, technology and investment across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” the delegates declared in the ‘Maafikiano’ document.

On the one hand, the ‘Azimio’ document, derived from Kiswahili word for ‘vision’, will act as a declaration of guiding principles for UN members on trade issues.

‘The Maafikiano’, on the other hand, refers to a set of obligations for each member state and the Unctad itself.

Delegates had generally agreed that the SDGs, a set of development targets agreed on by the UN to be achieved by 2030, required great assistance from Unctad, especially for the poor nations.

These goals touch on improving the international system on trade to alleviate poverty, supporting the poor nations addressing environmental challenges as well as good national policies to ensure faster development.

While Unctad has traditionally been advising nations on policy areas to change and to develop, the SDGs were only adopted last year and the agency had not been given a role to play.

DEVELOPMENT TARGETS

The delegates also agreed that Unctad should mobilise additional financial resources for developing countries from “multiple sources”.

The provision on SDGs had been pushed by the African countries and other developing and least developed states. Last evening, the African group said it was happy for its adoption.

“We are pleased that this outcome will also address the capacities of members in policy analysis in trade, development, debt issues, and technology and sustainable development,” said a statement read by a Namibian delegate on the group’s behalf.

The 14th session of Unctad was meant to develop consensus on actions needed to realise a number of global goals on development such as SDGs, the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, reached last year in Paris, as well as the Tenth World Trade Organisation Conference in Nairobi last year

Last evening, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, who also served as the president of the conference, said the documents represented a successful meeting.

“After very many hours of negotiations, as members of Unctad, we were able to adopt an outcome and it is an outcome that we are very pleased with. We have two documents that we have adopted,” the CS said.

“It is a good day for Kenya, a good day for Unctad, a good day for the international community and a big win for multilateralism.”

But this bit was gained at a great deal. Developed nations, especially under the European Union, had asked for an additional clause saying Unctad roles should not duplicate those of other trade bodies.

“With this document, we can get on with the business of cutting edge analysis, building political consensus, and providing the necessary technical assistance,” Unctad’s Kenya secretary-general, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi said last evening.