Her Excellency, Ms. Marjon Kamara, Ambassador of Liberia to the United Nations,
Mr. Jose Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, Executive Director at the International Labour Organisation,
Ambassador Gayan Chandra Acharaya,
Distinguished members of today’s panel,
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed a great honour to warmly welcome you all on behalf Mr. Diarra, USG and High Representative, who could not be with us today due to his travel to Africa to attend the AU-ECA Finance Ministers’ meeting. I would like to sincerely thank the International Labour Organization for organizing this policy dialogue and congratulate them for producing this analytical and informative report on Growth, Employment and Decent Work in the LDCs. This work would be an important contribution to the outcome of the Conference which will chart out new international support architecture for the LDCs in the next decade.
Allow me say a few words on the progress made in preparation for the Conference. As you know, the UN LDC IV Conference and the preparatory processes are being organized on four tracks – the intergovernmental, the parliamentarian, the private sector and the civil society. The focus of the intergovernmental track is now being made squarely on the draft outcome document. To facilitate the process, the UN system organizations held about 20 thematic pre-conference events, including today’s event. The Secretary-General’s Eminent Persons Group Report which will be launched tomorrow, is also an important contribution.
Three other tracks --- the Parliamentarians, Civil Society and the Private Sector, are equally engaged in the preparatory process. We have been working on establishing solid institutional basis for these three tracks which are hoped to remain involved beyond the Conference in the implementation of the new Programme of Action. At the UN LDC IV Conference, the IPU will hold the Parliamentarian Forum to agree on concrete recommendations of the Parliaments’ involvement in the implementation of the new PoA. On April 1, the President of the General Assembly will hold the interactive civil society hearings here in New York. At the Conference, the Civil Society Forum will begin on 7 May and continue until the end of the Conference.
The Private Sector has a full programme for itself at the Conference, including the High-Level Meeting on Investment and Partnerships, the Global Business Partnership Forum and the Trade Fair. All these aim to bring the LDC governments closer to the private sector and make them aware of the business and investment opportunities in these countries.
In the preparatory process, we are already seeing a convergence on a number of key themes – among these include improving LDCs’ productive sectors and capacities as a necessary means to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, including poverty eradication, and securing lasting and equitable growth.
There is no greater goal in this than in generating meaningful employment and decent work which sit at the very heart of development. Above and beyond employment, decent work constitutes a central force in improving the lives of those in the LDCs. Decent work provides an underlying rationale for diversifying trade, developing SMEs, encouraging foreign investment, channelling development aid and facilitating the transfer of technology. The LDCs have fast-growing, young population whose contribution should be broadly used for the LDCs’ development, but remain underutilized because of lack of employment opportunities. Moreover, employment remains concentrated in low value-adding sectors with limited opportunity. The vast majority of workers rely on subsistence or vulnerable forms of work in the informal economy which cannot lift them out of poverty.
Despite the significant economic growth since Brussels LDcs remain marginal players in the global economy, accounting for less than 2 percent of world GDP and about 1 percent of global trade in goods. Exports and FDI inflows have increased, but remain concentrated in commodities that yield little value-added or sustainable value for local firms and workforces, and are vulnerable to price volatilities. What is thus needed is to build and enhance their domestic capacities, including through implementing a more inclusive and job-rich policy that will help propel their own paths of sustainable and equitable growth; a more inclusive and job-rich growth that enhances the resilience of local households and local enterprises and upholds social and political stability.
The International Labour Organisation report provides us with an exhaustive information and analysis on the crucial subject of growth, employment and decent work in LDCs. I would like to underline the following policy recommendations in the Report that could serve as inputs to the outcome document of the Conference: First, it is important for the LDCs to develop macroeconomic frameworks conducive to job creation and poverty reduction; Second, there is a need to apportion higher levels of public investment in key infrastructure including transport, telecommunications, and financial as well as human resources and skills development. Third, it is crucial to intensify support towards the often neglected agricultural sector not only because of its importance in employment creation but also in its contribution to ensuring food security. Moreover, ensuring a well-integrated domestic economy, with strong inter-sectoral and rural-urban linkages, is key to job-rich sustainable growth for LDCs; Fourth, there is a need to implement policies that encourage the transition from the informal to the formal economy to support micro and small and medium enterprises and protect the incomes of the most vulnerable groups; Fifth, market access issues have to be addressed to ensure that the products and services of LDCs’ are able to enter the global marketplace duty free and quota free; Sixth, we cannot but emphasize the importance of enhancing social protection through labour market interventions, cash transfer schemes and public employment programmes targeting especially the vulnerable groups (including youth and women).
I would be remiss if I fail to add the importance of structural transformation which entails export diversification, increase value-addition, and productive capacities, all with the central goal of productive employment and decent work, underpinned by social dialogue.
I can see a full and fruitful discussions ahead of us, with a panel holding great expertise to guide our deliberations. I just simply encourage you to reflect on the issues under the backdrop of the UN LDC IV Conference -- a Conference that is expected to adopt the next decade’s ambitious and comprehensive programme of action for the LDCs.
I thank you and wish you success in your deliberations.