Friend of poorer nations in globalization takes over as head of UN

Friend of poorer nations in globalization takes over as head of UN

Mr. Supachai, a former Thai central banker and deputy prime minister, succeeds Rubens Ricupero of Brazil as Secretary-General of the 40-year-old UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In his previous role, Mr. Supachai was particularly disappointed at the collapse in 2003 of a major ministerial conference in Cancun, Mexico, that was meant to advance the Doha Development Agenda – adopted in 2001 in the Qatari capital of Doha in an effort to achieve freer trade worldwide.If Doha fails, he said then, the losers will be the poor of the world. The Cancun talks ran aground over issues ranging from speedy elimination of agricultural subsidies by rich countries that undercut farmers in the world’s poorest nations to the so-called Singapore issues – trade and investment, competition policy, transparency in government procurement – which developing nations felt might interfere with their domestic policies.In nominating Mr. Supachai in February, Secretary-General Kofi Annan paid tribute to his “outstanding job” in pushing forward “the very difficult process of the Doha round, on which rest many of the hopes for economic progress in developing countries and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).” The MDGs seek to halve extreme poverty and hunger, slash maternal and infant mortality, and increase access to health care, education, water and sanitation, all by 2015.UNCTAD has been the focal point within the UN for the integrated treatment of trade and development and related issues in the areas of investment, finance, technology, enterprise development and sustainable development.It carries out three key functions: as a forum for intergovernmental deliberations, supported by discussions with experts and exchanges of experience, aimed at consensus building; in research, policy analysis and data collection for the debates of government representatives and experts; and in providing technical assistance tailored to the specific requirements of developing countries, with special attention to the needs of the least developed countries and economies in transition.

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