Swiss criticise UN trade summit

The 10th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has seen plenty of high hopes but few concrete measures, according to the head of Switzerland's delegation, David Syz (pictured).

This content was published on February 14, 2000 - 14:42

The 10th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has seen plenty of high hopes but few concrete measures, according to the head of Switzerland's delegation, David Syz (pictured). However, he says, the conference has shown that there is a general willingness to solve current tensions over globalisation.

The conference began in Bangkok on Saturday and was billed as an opportunity for less developed countries to make known their views on world trade. It was also seen as a chance for renewed debate on globalisation after the failure of the World Trade Organisation summit in Seattle last year.

According to Syz, the event has since shown that there is a manifest desire to defuse current tensions over world trade and a broad awareness of the need for compromise. However, while there has been plenty of talking, he points out that little has so far been done actually to solve the problems themselves.

Nevertheless, the conference has raised a number of important issues. One of the key messages, according to Syz, is that there is a need for 'more equal globalisation'.

While in the past the globalisation process was seen purely in terms of capital, he says, it is necessary nowadays to take account of social and environmental effects. Other values, besides capitalism, now have a role to play.

A report published during the UNCTAD summit shows that differences between rich and poor countries have grown since the globalisation process began. While this problem can be addressed, Syz believes, it will be a slow process.

He suggests that developing countries could be given trade privileges to help them establish strong and sustainable economies. This could be combined with projects to promote local investment within those countries themselves.

However, he warns, more commitment is needed. The UNCTAD meeting has already raised concerns in this regard: while a number of heads of state from developing countries have travelled to Bangkok, not one Western leader has made the trip.

From staff and wire reports

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