Expansion of Trade among developing countries

1. The High-Level Conference on Economic Cooperation among Developing Countries noted that in recent years trade among developing countries had expanded more rapidly than their trade with developed countries. In this connection, the Conference therefore recommended that developing countries commit themselves to continue this expansion of trade among themselves and at a significant rates, and to adopt adequate commercial policy measures at the national as well as at the regional and inter-regional levels, to ensure that this objective is fully realized. While welcoming the continued expansion of trade among developing countries, the Conference recognized the importance of establishing suitable targets for trade expansion and, to this end, recommended that studies being undertaken in this regard in UNCTAD should be concluded as promptly as possible and, in any event, during 1981. The Conference also recommended that the implementation of the objective of the expansion of trade among developing countries should be reviewed periodically.

2. The Conference felt that expansion of trade among developing countries and consideration of issues related thereto would be facilitated by dissemination of adequate data on trade flows and market opportunities and by the promotion of the necessary trade financing. The Conference noted Arusha Action Plan’s recommendation on a trade information system with new emphasis on mutual trade among developing countries. The Conference recommended that the trade information system could be considerably assisted by more effective use of existing trade information in the sub-regional, regional and interregional institutions. The Conference therefore recommended that necessary action should be taken in order to ensure the early implementation of the proposed project on a Trade Information System (TIS) being prepared by UNCTAD.

3. The Conference recommended the further promoting of cooperation among developing countries in the field of marketing network, through setting up of branches, technical and commercial offices, exhibitions, department stores, warehouses and other forms of cooperation in the field of marketing, in the mutual interest of the countries concerned and in accordance with their national legislation.

4. In connection with the role of long-term agreements in strengthening the production capacities of developing countries and expanding their mutual trade, the Conference recommended that Governments of developing countries adopt all necessary measures within the framework of their economic policies in order to assist in the conclusion of such agreements.

Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP) among Developing Countries

5. The Conference noted that, in spite of a favourable growth rate in the trade between developing countries in the recent past, in 1976 these countries imported only 27.5 per cent of commodities and 10.5 per cent of manufactures from among themselves, out of which the shares of interregional trade were only 9.9 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively. The statistics of trade among developing countries by country and product compiled by UNCTAD showed that in a number of SITC headings (4 digit) relating to both agricultural products and manufactures, the developing countries imported the bulk of their requirements from developed countries, despite the existing production capabilities and export potential among developing countries. The Conference, therefore, concluded that the analysis of trade data in UNCTAD had fully substantiated the recommendation of the Ministers at Arusha that the Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP) among developing countries would constitute a major instrument for the promotion of trade, production and employment among developing countries. The Conference, however, stressed that the GSTP, when established, should result in equitable benefits for all participating developing countries. Moreover, it would supplement and not replace present and future sub-regional and regional preferential arrangements, which would also need to be strengthened.

6. The Conference noted that considerable analytical and preparatory work had already been carried out in UNCTAD to enable necessary steps to be undertaken for early establishment of the GSTP. The Conference agreed that there was now a need to devise the detailed modalities, rules and procedures for commencement of the negotiations. These rules would have to be based on the principles and guidelines for the GSTP established in the Arusha Action Plan and further elaborated at the Interregional Meeting of Governmental Experts of Developing Countries on ECDC held in Geneva in 1980. It also agreed that such negotiating modalities and rules should be simple and sufficiently flexible so as to ensure maximum participation in the negotiations. It noted further that another meeting of governmental experts was scheduled in UNCTAD for continuing preparatory work in July 1981. The Conference believed that, relying on the preparatory work already undertaken, it would be possible at this meeting to make substantial progress towards completing the work of drawing up the rules. The Conference recommended that as soon as possible after completion of the preparatory work another meeting of an appropriate high level should be held to finalize and approve the rules and launch the negotiations at the earliest.

State Trading Organizations (STOs)

7. The Conference stressed the need for a regular exchange of information among STOs in order to promote effectively trade and other forms of cooperation among such organizations. The Conference also took note of the work being carried out by the UNCTAD Secretariat in connection with a handbook on STOs. It recommended that this handbook should be completed and distributed as soon as possible and that STOs should provide UNCTAD with the necessary information for the regular updating and improvement of the handbook.

8. The Conference welcomed the symposium being organized by UNCTAD in association with ITC and the International Centre for Public Enterprises (ICPE) in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, in November 1981 at he headquarters of ICPE, for Heads of STOs of developing countries to consider, inter alia, a programme for mutual trade development and other forms of cooperation among their STOs, such as the establishment of long-term supply and purchase commitments. The Conference also welcomed the meeting of State Trading Organizations of the Asian Group scheduled to be held in Jakarta in October 1981 in collaboration with the UNCTAD Secretariat. In preparing a programme of cooperation among STOs, the Ljubljana symposium should pay special attention to cooperation with regard to import procurement from the developed countries, i.e. cooperation among purchasing agents of different developing countries and by larger exporting-importing developing countries undertaking operations on behalf of countries interested in smaller quantities. The Conference recommended that such meetings aiming to foster ECDC should be organized by developing countries at the subregional, regional and interregional levels on a regular basis to keep under review their joint efforts and to orient the work being undertaken by the international community to promote cooperation among STOs as well as in other fields of ECDC.

Multinational Marketing Enterprises (MMEs)

9. The Conference took note of the list of product groups as agreed to by the Group of 77 and selected by regional and interregional meetings of governmental experts of developing countries for the promotion of multinational marketing enterprises at the regional and interregional levels in pursuance of provisions of section ( c ) of the Arusha Action Plan, and recommended that such lists should be given wide publicity so as to facilitate contacts among parties concerned. It recommended also that technical and financial assistance should be provided on an urgent basis to intensify ongoing preparations and to support the process of sectoral negotiations envisaged at the regional and interregional levels for the establishment of this type of enterprise.

10. The Conference recommended that producers-exporters associations should become fully involved in the promotional work to be undertaken in relation to MMEs.

11. In the light of the action programme for the promotion of MMEs adopted at Arusha, the Conference stressed the need for governments of interested countries to mobilize their own public and private producers and exporters, as the case may be, to become involved in this process of sectoral negotiations.

National Enterprises, Joint-ventures and Improved Utilization of Existing Capacities in the Field of Services

12. The Conference recommended that action in the field of services should be envisaged at two levels. First, at the subregional and regional levels, where efforts should mainly be geared towards assistance to developing countries, particularly the least developed, land-locked and island developing countries, in setting up national enterprises or adopting any other relevant measures in order to solve their particular problems. The assistance of specialized organisations of developing countries at the sub-regional and regional levels offered the possibility in the short run to establish cooperation links among such organisations, to develop a regular exchange of information among them and to ensure the participation in their cooperative efforts of all parties concerned, including suppliers and users of the services in question. In addition to action in this respect, and as a result of such links, the Conference recommended that work should also be undertaken through expert groups for the identification of existing capacities and their level of utilisation, as required, to be proposed for adoption in support of such countries. The Group of 77 in Geneva should take steps for the preparation and convening of these expert groups.

13. The second level of action envisaged was of an interregional characters. It was stressed that the trade potential of the developing countries was particularly significant but that its realities and development was being hindered by the lack of ade4quate transportation, communications shipping and insurance facilities. The Conference considered that an effective way of dealing with existing obstacles in this respect was to establish links at the interregional level among sub-regional and regional organisations with responsibilities in the sectors concerned. The Conference recommended that, at this level, expert groups should be convened by the Group of 77 in Geneva not later than 1982 in order to identify problems encountered, establish priorities and suggest possible measures leading to appropriate action.

Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) in the Field of Trade

14. Regarding the fostering of technical cooperation in the area of trade, the Conference expressed the importance of resorting to means such as research and training centres of multinational scope, as identified in the Buenos Aires TCDC Conference. The Conference recommended in this regard more active exchange of information among the secretariats of the various subregional and regional economic groupings of developing countries.

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