Level playing field crucial for economic growth in least developed countries

  • 11 May 2011
Global regulation

Attracting private investment that supports economic growth in the world’s least developed countries relies heavily on creating conducive environments, business representatives told heads of state, ministers, and business and civil society leaders participating in the Fourth UN Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) on 9-13 May.

The conference pinpointed actions and opportunities to help the 48 countries at the base of the global pyramid achieve more stable, prosperous and sustainable economies and communities.With over 500 business delegates, it provided an unprecedented opportunity to elevate the role of private sector investment in LDCs and to mobilize business engagement towards development objectives.  The private sector issued a list of recommendations in a statement to the conference entitled Promoting Opportunity, Growth and Development. “Creating the right conditions for private enterprise may require strategic reforms to long-standing regulatory practices, and may challenge the economic, political and social status quo of an economy, but doing so is absolutely essential to unlocking the full potential of private enterprise and open markets in a way that can promote economic growth, environmental protection and social development,” the statement said. Governments and the UN system now recognize that the business community is a critical partner in achieving UN goals and that more extensive and deeper collaboration with the private sector is required. Across the UN system, private sector collaboration has become a common and effective way of advancing societal goals at both the global and local levels. Addressing the conference’s High-Level Meeting on Investment and Partnerships on 9 May, ICC Secretary General, Jean-Guy Carrier underscored the potential benefits to LDCs of increasing trade liberalization among developing countries and in particular, supporting access to trade finance. “Many developing countries continue to face considerable obstacles and challenges in tapping global markets and reaping the benefits associated with trade,” he said. The meeting brought together over 500 Heads of State and business leaders, including Muhtar Kent, CEO of the Coca Cola Company and featured opening addresses by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. Showcasing corporate practices in support of development, identifying new models and announcing partnerships between government and business, the meeting was designed to maximize peer-to-peer interaction and generate commitments to action – leveraging both individual and collective efforts. “Concerted efforts will be required to keep protectionist tendencies in check and to recommit to build a stronger and more effective multilateral trading system that serves developing countries. Concluding the Doha Round is particularly important in this respect,” Mr Carrier said. On 10 May, Mr Carrier co-hosted the 9th Session of the Investment Advisory Council (IAC) with Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Established in 2001 by ICC and UNCTAD, the IAC provides government officials and business executives a platform for discussing practical ways of attracting foreign direct investment and benefitting from it. “Integration of the least developed countries into the world economy so that they can participate in the benefits of globalization remains a major challenge for the international community,” Mr Carrier told participants. “Helping LDCs attract foreign direct investment is an important contribution to meeting this challenge.” In addition to the participation of the ICC Secretary General at the Conference, the ICC Permanent Representative to the UN, Louise Kantrow and USCIB Vice President Adam Greene were part of the UN Private Sector Steering Committee, created to organize the High-Level Meeting and the Global Business Partnership Forum – a multistakeholder, working-level platform for dialogue among business investors and government officials.