Speaking at a press conference at UNCTAD 14, Members of the European Parliament emphasized that although trade can be a powerful engine of growth, its benefits are not evenly distributed. “The 48 Least Developed Countries still share only 1% of global trade. We need to prioritize the needs of the poorest countries and align trade with other policies. The priority of the Agenda 2030 is to eradicate poverty. Trade has to work for sustainable development and growth”, MEPs said.
Addressing a press conference at the fourteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Nairobi, Kenya, Bernd LANGE (S&D, DE), chair of a joint delegation of Trade and Development Committee said: "Policy makers have a duty to put certain mechanisms in place for responsible and sustainable investment that fosters development. This means balancing favorable business and investment climate with good governance and a sufficient right to regulate for public interest". Speaking of the investment court system, he added: "The EU approach on the permanent investment court was well received at UNCTAD and now it's time to move it forward".
Development MEP, Joachim ZELLER (EPP, DE) added: "Trade and development are more and more interlinked. Also, developing countries are in a new situation compared to 20 years ago with some countries emerging, LDCs lagging behind, and all of them concerned about globalisation. Yet, I hear more talk about trade than development here. Also, I feel there is not enough involvement of parliamentarians and civil society. We want the world to be more democratic and as elected representatives we need to be there".
Talking about the role of UNCTAD, Marie ARENA (SD, BE), a member of the International Trade Committee said: "We don't need trade just for trade, we need trade for development". Referring to the postponed signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and the East African Economic Community, she said: "Given the recent developments, it is risky to only focus on the trade agreement. I think we need to work on alternatives, otherwise one million Kenyan farmers will suffer".
Trade MEP, Helmut SCHOLZ (GUE/NGL, DE) said: "UNCTAD14 has to prove that the new challenges for international community for ensuring economic and social development include awareness about organizing global value chains in a responsible way that fits national needs. Thanks to the European Parliament, the EU will have binding rules on the responsible sourcing of tin, tungsten, tantalum, gold and their ores, known as 'conflict minerals'. This approach can also be applied to the garments and textiles sector". Speaking of the EAC EPA issue, he added: "We need to maintain a regional approach to EU-East African trade relations that in the long run work for sustainable development. With the new global sustainable development goals and the 2030 Agenda we have game changers at our disposal".
A joint delegation of development and trade committee MEPs is participating at the 14th quadrennial Ministerial Conference of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Nairobi, Kenya, between 19 and 22 July. Along with UNCTAD14 sessions, the 6-member strong delegation met with representatives of the UN, the Kenyan Government and Parliament, members of the trade unions and civil society. Under the “From Decisions to Actions" theme, UNCTAD14 aims at getting down to the business of translating the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals into concrete action plans. Members of the delegation are Bernd LANGE, Joachim ZELLER, Godelieve QUISTHOUDT-ROWOHL (EPP, DE), Marie ARENA, Arne LIETZ (S&D, DE) and Helmut SCHOLZ.