Saturday, June 12, 2004

Trade conference becomes more pragmatic

Delegates to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) this weekend in São Paulo will be surprised by the shift in focus from the anti-establishment rhetoric of yesteryear to pragmatic, free-market economics.

Representatives, mostly from developing nations, will learn how to combat poverty by slashing capital costs and meeting consumer preferences in wealthy nations. Forty years after its foundation, Unctad is preaching supply-side economics.

"We don't have the least problem with the idea of [a] market economy but for it to work you need to create a supply-side capability," Rubens Ricupero, secretary- general of Unctad, told the FT. "Unctad is still seen as a 1970s organisation but we have changed a lot. Today we are more pragmatic and emphasise export-led devel opment."

This week the Group of Eight summit said it accepted that developing countries should be allowed to liberalise at their own pace.


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