(Geneva, 1 October 2020)

President of the Trade and Development Board Ambassador Federico Villegas,
Deputy Secretary-Isabelle Durand
Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, Mr. Richard Kozul Wright,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me start by thanking His Excellency Mr. Martin Guzman, Minister of Economy of Argentina and His Excellency Ambassador Munir Akram, President of ECOSOC for their remarks and their respective presentations. The Group of 77 and China would like to first express its appreciation to the Secretariat, and more particularly the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies for the preparation of the Trade and Development Report 2020 From global pandemic to prosperity for all: avoiding another lost decade. The Group values the unique development perspective offered by the TDR, in particular in this case on a challenge that is as multidimensional as tackling the effect of the pandemic.

We also take this opportunity to commend the secretariat for continuing to produce research in relation to the pandemic, reacting to the demand urgent need of Member States. In doing so, the Group of 77 and China reiterates that our members look forward to the UNCTAD-wide publication on the pandemic.

The TDR 2020 draws important parallels with the financial crisis of 2008 and puts emphasis on the lessons we should have learned from the recovery. To build back better we must first recover better. The Group of 77 and China concurs with the assessment made by the TDR that "getting back to normal" is not an option. All nations and the international community must seize the opportunity to achieve a fairer and more equal world, as UNCTAD has been promoting over the last 56 years.

Already before the pandemic struck, developing countries were faced with challenges of inequality, unsustainable levels of debt, as well as important systemic issues that continue to rig the rules of the game and thus stand in the way of the achievement of Agenda 2030. Today, when we consider that at least 100 million jobs will be lost by the end of 2020, and between 90 million and 120 million people being pushed into extreme poverty in the developing world, we see the prospects for achievement of Agenda 2030 further away.

Mr. President,

As the TDR 2020 rightly points out, developing countries have been faced with the need for increased health spending while having to struggle with declining tax revenues, combined with a collapse in export earnings and pending debt payments, exposing a financing gap of 2 to 3 trillion dollars that remains unaddressed.

As we learn from the way the financial crisis of 2008 was handled, we cannot avoid thinking of our ever-growing interdependence, which makes dealing with the pandemic and its aftermath in a fragmented way not only undesirable but also ineffective. The United Nations needs to take its rightful place in our pandemic coordination, in line with the need for a true multilateral approach to what is truly a global problem.

Yet, we must also learn from other mistakes of the past we have been reminded of by the TDR 2020 if we truly strive to build back better and leave no one behind in the achievement of Agenda 2030. For one, we must strive for an inclusive recovery that brings wellbeing to as many households as possible and that does not only benefit large corporations and thriving metropolitan regions. We need a recovery that is felt by the poorest, by the rural dwellers and by the small businesses.

Another lesson that the TDR 2020 reminds us is about how we assess our progress, and about the danger of prematurely abandoning fiscal stimuluses for fiscal or other reasons, as well as of export oriented cost-cutting strategies by business that are likely to stem the recovery and probably bring a double-dip recession in 2022.

The Group of 77 and China would therefore like to lend its voice against the "reglobalization" of the world on the basis radical free market principles that have not been able to bring about prosperity for all before the pandemic and will thus be much less able to do so after it. Cheap credit and renewed capital flows will not be able to achieve the kind of change for the better world that is at the root of the cause of the Group of 77 and China.

The fundamental transformation of our world demands fundamental action beyond simple boosting of financial assets, short-lived fiscal stimuluses, and over-reliance on monetary policy. Transformation demands building productive capacities through productive investment and policies that boost productivity. Transformation entails lifting people out of poverty, creating jobs, and raising household incomes, not only making the top 1% even richer or boosting the balance sheets of large corporations.

As we think to the challenge in front of us, we should be mindful not only of the cost but also of the potential benefits. Some experts claim that the cost of having prepared for this pandemic would have been but a diminutive fraction of the damage it has created. Similarly, if we think of the need to build back better, we should not look at the daunting investment needed, but at the millions of people lifted out of poverty, the livelihoods ensured and the socioeconomic progress that go with the achievement of Agenda 2030.

The massive relief packages, which as pointed by the TDR 2020 are estimated at 13 trillion in G20 countries, are evidence that the political will is present, and that the magnitude of the challenge is clearly understood. The political will has to also be translated into the willingness for the states to take a more active role in the economy, which is being called upon by actors that would not have dared uttering such suggestions even some years ago. This and a number of other very interesting ideas put forward in the TDR 2020 for both advanced economies and developing countries would be the focus of much discussion with the aim to adopting a coherent set of actions coordinated internationally. Moreover, a reform of the global architecture, whether as proposed by the TDR 2020 or in some other form or combination, is an indispensable condition for the recovery to not only be effective but also so that it can contribute to truly building back better and leaving no one behind.

I thank you, Mr. President.