…As Geingob blasts EU’s attempt to squeeze Nam on EPA
By Hilary Mare
PRESIDENT Hage Geingob has lamented and castigated attempts by developed countries and international bodies such as the European Union to squeeze the policy space on developing countries when designing their development policies and implementing their development programmes.
Affirming that this should not be accepted, Geingob elaborated that Namibia had first-hand experience of such during the economic partnership agreement negotiations.
“The EU wanted to enforce an unfair agreement on us that would have significantly restricted our policy space had they succeeded. Such attempts must be resisted. The eventual outcome of the recent landmark multilateral agreements has reaffirmed the national policy space of each country and it is my hope that this meeting here would do the same,” he said at the World Leaders Summit, during the opening of UNCTAD XIV.
At the same gathering in Kenya it was highlighted that some commodity dependent developing countries are losing as much as 67 percent of their exports worth billions of dollars to trade misinvoicing, according to a fresh study by UNCTAD, which for the first time analyses this issue for specific commodities and countries.
Trade misinvoicing is thought to be one of the largest drivers of illicit financial flows from developing countries, making the countries lose precious foreign exchange earnings, tax, and income that might otherwise be spent on development.
Released during UNCTAD’s Global Commodities Forum, the study uses data from up to two decades covering exports of commodities such as cocoa, copper, gold, and oil from Chile, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia.
“This research provides new detail on the magnitude of this issue, made even worse by the fact that some developing countries depend on just a handful of commodities for their health and education budgets,” UNCTAD’s Secretary-General, Mukhisa Kituyi, said.
Commodity exports may account for up to 90 percent of a developing country’s total export earnings, he said, adding that the study generated fresh lines of enquiry to understand the problem of illicit trade flows.
“Importing countries and companies, which want to protect their reputations, should get ahead of the transparency game and partner with us to further research these issues,” Dr. Kituyi said.
In a similar context, Geingob said that countries should be vigilant against attempts by some other countries to downgrade the mandate of UNCTAD or outsource its responsibilities to other multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and IMF that are famous for their destructive structural adjustment programs in African countries adding that UNCTAD should remain the UN focal point for integrated trade, and sustainable development.
“There are attempts by developed countries to block any mention of issues related to tax avoidance and illicit capital outflows from developing nations. However, with its universal membership and working on consensus basis, UNCTAD provides the ideal platform to discuss such issues,” he said.
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