Think, debate and deliver.

Author:Weldon, Robyn
Position:Wef special: unctad - Interview
 
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As the new secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development, responsible for promoting international trade and helping more than 90 countries to achieve economic progress, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi has plenty on his plate.

UNCTAD has the meaty task of dealing with development issues--providing the analyis and recommendations to support economic policy makers' work towards ending poverty. It also provides technical assistance to developing countries, organises the biennial World Investment Forum to promote policies for sustainable development, and conducts research in technology and innovation. We spoke to Dr Kituyi, who took the helm of this agency on 1 September, about UNCTAD's work and the changes afoot in the world economy.

The 2014WEF theme is reshaping the world, with reference to social, economic and technological changes--all key aspects of UNCTAD's work. How do you see your role in these changes?

We give the foundation for reflecting on the fundamental shifts that we are seeing. One area that we think is important is the dysfunctional multilateral system. We are in the situation where slowed rule making under the WTO and the rising proliferation of regionally negotiated engagements are taking momentum out of global multilateral engagement, at a time when we are witnessing for the first time what you could call international production. Borderless production and the rapid movement of intermediate goods and services around the world are forcing us to start thinking afresh about how to retool globalised governance. Nobody says "the financial markets fix it" any more! It is going to enrich dialogue that will mature in the post-2015 agenda.

By "post-2015 agenda" you mean...?

The end of the Millennium Development Goals in the UN system we have a dialogue about what happens after that: new international commitments, sustainable activity, new realities about shifting paradigms; that the way we looked at the world is not working. And a less substantial dialogue about the return of planning ministries. The financial markets are getting re-regulated. There is a new sense of purpose coming to the issues of more equitable trade--sustainable trade going forward must deal with the matters of equity, both internationally but even domestically, in the countries that are trading.

We are going to see growing attention to the need for a mechanism internationally to monitor the movement of investment. We do not have an institution that gives oversight and benchmarks practices in investment. On the one hand I'm seeing the end of the open frontier on liberalisation--particularly financial markets, what has come out of portfolio finance and speculative capital movements--on the other we are seeing the phenomenon of international production, borderless production, and the attendant changes of the players' own rule setting.

I read that you spoke about the role of trade in promoting peace in Africa--"those who do not trade with their neighbours, trade their neighbours".

Our ancient history was that communities that lived in antagonistic relationship dehumanised the...

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