Food, the main issue for the next two years
GENEVA, Feb. 15 (G-77) - The Chairmanship of the Geneva Chapter of the Group of 77 for 1997 changed hands in January. Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan took over from the outgoing Chairman Ambassador Francois-Xavier Ngoubeyou of Cameroon. The term of the chairmanship lasts for one year.
A full calendar of activities for 1997, with a particular focus on trade and economic matters of central importance to developing countries, lies ahead for the incoming Chairman to tackle.
The primary task of the Chair will be to prepare the Group for deliberations and negotiations on critical issues that are on the agenda of the Group. These issues include trade and environment, investment, access to markets, capital and technology, trade in services, etc.
This objective is to be achieved by holding frequent meetings and informal consultations with the coordinators of the regional groups and their interested delegations with a view to arriving at a common position before entering into any negotiating process with developed countries.
During the month of January, the Chairman of the Group of 77 convened a series of consultation meetings.
The Group held several meetings aimed at finalizing its contribution to the South-South Conference on Trade, Finance and Investment held in San Jose, Costa Rica January 13-15.
The Workin Party on Medium-term Plan and Programme Budget met 16-17 January and embarked on the proposed revision to the work programme for 1996-97 as well as draft work programme for 1998-99 to give guidance to Secretary-General of UNCTAD in making his budget proposals.
The Chairman also drew attention of the members of the working party to the importance of the meeting and emphasized the need for closer interaction among members, i.e. three from each region (Africa, Asia and Latin America).
The Commission on Enterprise, Business Facilitation and Development met from 20 to 24 January. Prior to that, the Group held a briefing session with the Secretariat to discuss issues involved and explored possible topics for future meetings.
Another issue that kept the Group engaged was the question of "Expert Meetings" that are to be convened within the framework of Commission on Investment, Technology and Financial Issues. The meeting of this Commission was held in November 1996, nevertheless, the question of expert level activities remained unresolved and was subject to further consultations by the Chairman of the Commission.