CAIRO: Secretary General of UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) Supachai Panitchpakdi arrived in Cairo Sunday to meet with Egypt s Minister of International Cooperation for Development, Fayza Abol Naga.
The meeting was to continued talks that began last October on the theme UNCTAD, the UN reform process, and development .
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations in Geneva Fisseha Yimer also participated in the discussion.
During the debate, several countries took the floor responding to issues raised by main speakers, Abol Naga and Yimer. UNCTAD needs to establish itself as the leader among UN agencies in identifying and analyzing emerging issues, Abol Naga had declared at UNCTAD s Mid-Term Review (MTR) last October.
Other developing countries also articulated their grand visions for UNCTAD as the key institution and focal point within the UN system to address the challenges of globalization, especially in the areas of trade, finance and development.
While countries expressed the need for an enhanced and revitalized role for the organization in tackling development issues, Abol Naga and Panitchpakdi were concerned that the current UN-wide reforms and initiatives for change within UNCTAD itself could leave the organization further weakened.
Although previous attempts to reform UNCTAD had resulted in subsequent reduction of mandates and resources, the UN reform process threatens to downsize the institution s mandate even more.
Developing countries wish to see UNCTAD grow stronger. To do so, UNCTAD wishes to spearhead work on the international financial system and other financial issues related to development.
In particular, UNCTAD seeks to play a greater role in the UN financing for development process, these developing countries argued.
Developing countries feared that UNCTAD has lost some of its relevance in the UN system. However, Abol Naga and Panitchpakdi confirmed their interest in reclaiming its role as the focal point for development issues.
Panitchpakdi also met with Egypt s Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Saturday to commend UNCTAD s role in terms of offering technical assistance to developing nations mainly in the domains of trade, investment and financing development.
Panitchpakdi praised cooperation with Egypt and the role it played since UNCTAD s establishment. He also hailed the steps taken by the Egyptian government in the fields of economic and trade reform and the attraction of foreign investment.
Following the meeting, Panitchpakdi and Aboul Gheit signed a memorandum of understanding between the Diplomatic Studies Institute and the UNCTAD Secretariat on enhancing cooperation in the field of training.
Established in 1964, UNCTAD seeks to promote development-friendly integration of developing countries into the world economy. As an authoritative knowledge-based institution whose work aims to help shape current policy debates on development, UNCTAD carries a special focus on ensuring that domestic policies and international action are mutually supportive in bringing about sustainable development. Egypt is a founding member of UNCTAD.