Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See
Seventy-second Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Second Committee
Agenda Item 17: Macroeconomic policy questions
and Agenda Item 18: Follow-up to and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development
New York, 5-6 October 2017
My Delegation takes serious note of the Secretary-General’s recent reports on a number of different macroeconomic policy issues, including his report on progress made in implementing the outcomes of the international conference on Financing for Development, held in Addis Ababa in July 2015.
Macroeconomic policy issues have an important role to play in putting in place the stable financial and economic environment necessary to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In this regard, my delegation would like to highlight briefly a few observations made in these reports, particularly as they affect Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and prospects for the achievement of some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In regard to the Secretary General’s report on international trade, we note with concern the steady decline in international trade that occurred in 2015 and 2016. Even though more recent World Trade Organization (WTO) forecasts indicate some recovery in the growth of international trade in the first half of 2017, they continue to acknowledge substantial risks to future growth in international trade, as protectionist rhetoric continues. While recognizing the dislocating effects that the expansion of international trade can have on developed societies, my Delegation shares the view expressed in this year’s report, that the solution should not be ‘less trade’ but, rather, ‘better trade’, guided by the principles of inclusivity and equity for all and consistent with the call of Pope Francis for an inclusive economics focused on the common good. The implications of recent trends in international trade for the attainment of key SDG trade goals are of concern, in particular with regard to SDG 17, which calls for facilitating the integration of poorer countries into the global economy, by doubling the LDCs’ share of global exports by 2020.
In this context, my Delegation also wishes to reiterate past concerns about the need to give special attention to the LDCs. Many of the LDCs are dependent on agricultural commodity exports alone. As a result, protective trade measures can be particularly punitive since they prevent these countries from generating scarce foreign exchange and can end up blocking the only avenues the world’s poorest farmers may have to additional income. Consequently, the Holy See would like to urge developed countries to remember that even a modest lowering of protective tariffs on certain agricultural products can provide significant and life-sustaining benefits for small farmers in these countries.
With regard to the external debt sustainability of developing countries, my delegation shares the concern expressed in the Secretary-General’s report that the overall outlook is worsening. Of particular concern are the large variations among developing countries. This will require careful monitoring and additional capacity building efforts for those countries whose debt management capacity is weak, especially LDCs. It may also require recourse to further debt relief mechanisms, the need for which should be examined in consultation with the IMF and the World Bank, as proposed in the SG’s report.
The role of official development assistance (ODA) remains an important source of external finance for the LDCs. We are therefore encouraged to learn from the Secretary General’s report that ODA reached its highest level ever in 2016, increasing by almost 9 percent compared with 2015. The reasons underlying this increase are also important for the achievement of the SDGs: increases in debt relief, in humanitarian aid, and donor commitments for the growing burden of global refugee costs.
Finally, my Delegation welcomes the follow up activities to the 2015 Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa. The report from the most recent meeting in New York in May 2017 provides a comprehensive account of these discussions and roundtables. At that meeting, my Delegation stated that “we must now translate our declarations into actions, and our commitments into achievements.” Such action is more pressing now than ever, and for no group of countries is this more needed than for the LDCs.
Let us therefore continue to work together to achieve the goals already agreed upon, making mid-course corrections as needed, and thus helping to realize the commitments made collectively in Addis Ababa to achieve a sustainable, equitable, and integral development that leaves no country behind.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
2. Cfr. Pope Francis, Address at the conclusion of luncheon with the participants in the international seminar on the Pope’s proposal “Towards a more inclusive economy”, from the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 12 July 2014.
5. Statement of the Holy See, 23 May 2017.