south-north development monitor - SUNS [Email Edition]

SUNS # 4397
Thursday, 18 March 1999


Trade: New Round should address "unfinished business" (Chakravarthi Raghavan)

Labour: ILO for "rapid response" to future economic crisis (Someshwar Singh, Geneva)

Finance: Clinton's debt relief call questioned (IPS, Washington)

Finance: France wants relief for heavily indebted countries (IPS, Paris)

Africa: Poverty on the rise, despite economic gains (IPS, Nairobi)

Costa Rica: Child prostitution a growing problem (IPS, San Jose)

Environment: Toxic chemicals poison Bengal basin (IPS, Dhaka) _________________________________________________________________

Excerpts from some selected articles:

Development: New Round should address "unfinished business"

Geneva, 17 Mar (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The new trade round being promoted at the WTO should address the cumulative "unfinished business" of the Tokyo and Uruguay Rounds -- more access to markets for developing country goods and services, more access to "greenfield" investments, more finance for development needs, UNCTAD Secretary-General Rubens Ricupero said Wednesday.

Ricupero, in an opening address to the "Trade and Development Symposium" organized by the World Trade Organization, delivered a relatively tough speech -- probably because he threw away drafts from various divisions of the UNCTAD secretariat and wrote his own and, unusually for him had a text available for distribution soon after. In doing so, and even using some "bitter language", departing from his usual diplomatically worded speeches, Ricupero put some flesh and blood into his advocacy of "a positive agenda" of developing countries, and outlined what should have been a coherent list of "demands" by them for any new round of negotiations -- rather than as most of them have been doing, namely, conceding in advance what the European Union or the United States want, repeating neo-liberal slogans about "liberalisation of trade and investments", and hoping they can pick some crumbs falling off the tables.

In some telling words about the crisis spreading across the developing world and transition economies, and the complacency that has come back in the North, Ricupero said that 21 months after the outbreak of the most serious crisis of development, which has devastated South-East and East Asia, Russia, and has just prostrated Brazil and Latin America, "no one can tell whether it has been run out of regions to further ravage." It could no longer be described as Asian, financial, economic or global, but was "the crisis of development".

It not only started in a developing country, but has "reserved its malignant force" for the developing and transition regions of the world - those weak economies whose immune systems are particularly vulnerable.

Labour: ILO favours "rapid response" to future economic crisis

Geneva, March 16 (Someshwar Singh) -- The governing body of the ILO will examine how to strengthen the organization's capacity for a "rapid response" strategy for minimizing the social fallout from future economic crises, in the light of the dismal experience from the Asian crisis, at a two day-symposium (19-20 March).

More than 24 million jobs were lost in the recently in the seven East and South-East Asian countries hit by the crisis - China, Hong Kong, Indonesia South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

This estimate is double that made by the ILO in mid-1998.

Bulk of the job losses came in the modern, industrial and service sectors where wages, productivity and working conditions tend to be higher than average forcing increasing number of workers into informal or agricultural sectors, which are already crowded and which offer generally poorer earning opportunities.


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