TDR to be main publication on world economy

GENEVA: The annual Trade and Development Report (TDR) of the UN Conference on Trade and Development is to become the principal UN publication on the international economy and its impact on development, according to a decision of the UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan as part of the UN restructuring.

A separate UN report on the world economic situation and prospects, to be prepared jointly by UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and UNCTAD, will be issued in January of each year, and will serve as a global overview for regional economic surveys.

Annan's decision, flowing from the reform programme, was on the basis of a review by DESA and UNCTAD and their recommendations, and a survey of various UN reports, flowing from the Maurice Strong exercise.

Under the decision, which endorsed the recommendations of DESA and UNCTAD, UNCTAD has been entrusted with the primary responsibility within the UN for analyzing issues relating to global financial markets, as well as for monitoring the overall debt situation of developing and transition economies in the context of UNCTAD's work on macro-economic analysis.

The UN programme of reform, announced by Annan last year, recognizes UNCTAD's "core competencies in macro-economic policy analysis in the context of interdependence and in support of the inter-related issues of trade and development."

The recommendations of DESA and UNCTAD were aimed at enhancing policy analysis within the UN and set out a new division of labour, based on rationalization of work and strengthened cooperation between DESA and UNCTAD.

UNCTAD is to take the lead on the substantive analysis of the relationships between the international economy and economic development - "the integrated treatment of development and the inter-related issues of trade, finance, investment, technology, services and sustainable development."

UNCTAD's macro-economic policy analysis will include a review of the transmission of effects on development of policies in the major industrialized countries; the impact of globalization on development prospects; and the examination of inter-relations among development policy issues in developing countries and of successful development experiences.

The TDR, launched in 1981, is issued annually for the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board's meetings in September-October, and has gained a reputation for providing an alternative view (to those emanating from the IMF/World Bank/OECD) on global macro-economic and development issues. Henceforth, the TDR is also to be made available to the UN General Assembly as a background document for the Second Committee, along with the World Economic and Social Survey published by DESA.

Additionally, UNCTAD is to prepare jointly with DESA a UN report on the world situation and prospects, to be issued in January of each year, starting 1999.

This report will examine the performance and prospects of the world's economies and developments in the international economy, with a view to identifying emerging issues. It will also serve as a global overview for the preparation of the regional economic surveys as well as other relevant UN reports, and help in ensuring analytical consistency and policy coherence for all UN macro-economic work. (Third World Economics No. 182, 1-15 April 1998)

Chakravarthi Raghavan is the Chief Editor of the South-North Development Monitor (SUNS)from which the above article first appeared.