UN Conference Welcomes Private Sector Involvement

    Joseph Deiss, president of the General Assembly of the United Nations speaks during the private sector forum at the Fourth U.N. Conference on the Least Developed Countries. Photo by: Evan Schneider / UN

    More than 2,000 companies from developed and developing countries are present at the week-long Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries being held in Istanbul, Turkey.

    Many development leaders have said at the conference that private sector involvement in the development arena can increase wealth generation and job creation in 48 countries that are considered the world’s poorest.

    Turkey’s confederation of businessmen and industrialists is hosting a weeklong trade fair that started Monday (May 9) and held a “matchmaking event” for businesses last Tuesday to spur partnerships between companies in LDCs and their counterparts in rich nations, Mark Tran writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog.

    “This is a conference not just of government officials,” Turkish President Abdullah Gül told the Guardian from the presidential residence in Tarabya. “There is a business track with the business community from LDCs and we have arranged it so they can have their own meetings. To me it is one of the most important aspects of this conference. It is the first time that there is this kind of large business presence.”

    LDCs working toward trade deal

    Meanwhile, LDC leaders in Istanbul are seeking a more definitive trade deal by the end of 2011 as frustration mounts over the virtual halt of World Trade Organization negotiations that would have developed countries lift protectionist barriers in order for products from the developing world to be as competitive. Negotiations started in Doha, Qatar, in 2001 and have since stalled.

    “They are frustrated about the length of these (WTO) negotiations. A clear sign of that is that they are saying that if the round cannot be completed this year, then we need something, we need results for the LDCs,” Valentine Rugwabiza, WTO deputy director-general, told IPS News Service on Wednesday (May 11).

    U.K. Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for International Development Stephen O’Brien, who is in Istanbul, agreed that there should be a successful end to the Doha round.

    “Ensuring that countries are fully integrated into the global economy is critical to drive growth and poverty reduction. Without a fair chance to export their products, countries cannot meet their potential to grow and reduce poverty. A successful conclusion of the Doha development round and a strong multilateral system remain the best way to ensure sustained and fair market access of developing countries to global markets,” O’Brien told the conference, as quoted by the Guardian.

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    About the author

    • Louie-An Pilapil

      Louie-An is a former senior development analyst at Devex Manila. She has held consulting and editorial positions at the Asian Development Bank in Manila and a business-to-business media company in Hong Kong and mainland China.