President Rupiah Banda has urged the international community to address the challenges that least developed countries (LDCs) face in the effective utilization of preferential trade arrangements.
Speaking during a high-level interactive debate on the theme: “Harnessing Trade for Least Developed Development and Transformation”, yesterday, President Banda said major gaps still remained with regard to timeliness, adequacy and appropriateness of such preferential trade initiatives.
The President said notable challenges with preferential market access schemes have been the rules of origin as well as the stringent and sometimes excessive standards requirements.
Mr. Banda noted that LDCs’s continued to face supply side constraints that impeded their efforts of integrating into global trade. He pointed out that these constraints were related to infrastructure problems which negatively affected production, transportation and quality assurance of products emanating from least developed countries.
“It is, therefore, imperative that these challenges are addressed in a coherent and practical manner if we are to harness the role of trade in development and poverty reduction. Our cooperating partners need to go beyond the preferential market access schemes and invest in making LDC’s true development and trade partners,” the President said.
President Banda said the lack of progress in the negotiations under the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s Doha Development Agenda has also added to the challenges faced by LDCs.
“The Doha Agenda is an important platform to create reasonable progress towards the attainment of sustainability and equity in global trade. Delays in concluding the talks are of particular concern to our countries. The development-oriented conclusion of the WTO Doha round of negotiations is, therefore, crucial,” the President said..
The Zambian Head of State noted that while economic partnership agreement (EPA) negotiations with the European Union have reached a critical stage, the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) concerns have not been fully addressed.
“We need to re-think the development path that will contribute to the stability of the global economy at large and the sustained growth and structural transformation of LDCs in particular. Harnessing trade for LDCs development and transformation requires concerted efforts from all partners and stakeholders supported by adequate financial, institutional and human resource,” President Banda said.
The President said there was need also to reform the investment policies to facilitate the flow of resources to sectors that allowed LDCs to tap into high-value supply chains and ensure that LDCs were not condemned to being perpetual suppliers of raw materials.
Prseident Banda said technical assistance and capacity-building programmes such as the Enhanced Integrated Framework and Aid for Trade should continue to be strengthened to assist LDCs address their supply capacity constraints, especially for value-added processes.
“My delegation firmly believes that trade, if properly managed and linked to other economic and social sectors, has high potential for unlocking the path to sustainable development and structural transformation for LDCs” the President added.