Trinidad and Tobago urges the General Assembly to play a major role in global economic governance.

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Ms . Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

The UN General Assembly has been urged to play a major role in global economic governance.

The call came from Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar during a thematic debate on "The United Nations and Global Economic Governance".

Noting that her statement represented small-nation States, Prime-Minister Persad-Bissessar said her country, due to its energy-driven economy, international reserves and low public debt level, had escaped the worst shocks of the global financial crisis in the first round; however, many of her country's neighbours in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as well as other small States had not been so fortunate.

“A gap persists, as concessional financing for small States is still inadequate. A facility for the highly-indebted disaster prone middle income countries is missing. With dwindling donor support and the erosion of trade preferences for agriculture, we in CARICOM need to simultaneously engage several strategies to ensure our survival. We must lower debt to create fiscal space, diversify narrow productive bases, reduce dependence on United States and European markets; create new ties with emerging market economies and improve our competitiveness. You would appreciate that such strategies require time, finances and support from the international community. We need to employ new strategies in order to address this critical question. As such, CARICOM and other small states need to focus on the following: concessional financing for infrastructural development; access to markets for their products, including tourism; debt relief for highly indebted countries; and technology transfer.”

Prime Minister Persad-Bisessar said more importantly for the region, it embraced external buffers put in place by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, which provide lines of credit to economies facing external shocks.

“Trinidad and Tobago submits that safeguards are inadequate to resolve the problems in my region and others with small economies..The old approach to doing things is not working. It is or this reason that Trinidad and Tobago has taken the initiative to start a conversation within the Governance of International Monetary Fund to ensure that small economies are given a political presence in the deliberations of such bodies. Trinidad and Tobago is using its position as the only CARICOM Member State of the G24, to advocate for greater dialogue with the G20 and the multinational lending organizations to give greater attention to issues facing small and vulnerable states. The General Assembly as the voice of 193 member-states with equal status under the UN Charter must not be silent on this matter because the international financial and economic crises dictate the need for a global governance structure which takes into consideration the unique circumstances of small states.”

Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar pointed out that international financial regulations did not support a level playing field between small and large States. The preferential treatment given to areas important to some large States, such as mortgages, proved dangerous in the financial crisis. She called on the IMF and the World Bank to intensify attention on the issues of small and vulnerable economies.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 3’50″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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August 2014
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