Commerce Minister attends UNCTAD XII meeting in Accra, Ghana 20-25 April 2008

     Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the newly appointed Minister for Commerce led Pakistan’s delegation to the ‘Twelfth quadrennial session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’ from 20 to 25 April 2008 at Accra, Ghana.

     Mr. Abbasi while addressing the gathering during the General debate said that the meeting was taking place at a crucial juncture when the world is facing unparalleled challenges. He underscored the adverse effects of soaring food and fuel prices on the already low levels of living of the sizeable poorest sections of society in developing countries. The prevailing financial crunch was further exacerbating the spiralling world commodity prices. He looked forward to hearing experiences of other countries for possible replication in Pakistan. He expressed the new Government's keen desire to bring about policy changes that would have a visible effect on the lives of the common people. He also stressed on the importance of an early conclusion of the Doha round particularly now that the world was faced with the impending slow down of the global economy. See his full speech.

     While in Accra, Mr. Abbasi also held bilateral meetings with the Commerce Ministers of Iran, India, Sri Lanka and China (Vice Minister). He held discussions that focused on improving bilateral trade and removal of non-tariff barriers. He held a bilateral meeting with Mr. Pascal Lamy, Director General of WTO. Mr. Lamy dwelt on the current state of play of the Doha Round negotiations. He advised the Commerce Minister to be ready to attend the Ministerial level meeting which may be held sometime in May 2008 to conclude Agriculture and NAMA modalities and make progress in other areas. The Commerce Minister also chaired one of the UNCTAD XII sessions.

     The meeting was attended by more than 4,000 participants representing all United Nations Member States as well as 20 intergovernmental bodies and more than 100 non-governmental organizations. Earlier at the opening ceremony, the Presidents of Brazil and Ghana and Secretary Generals of the United Nations and UNCTAD spoke about the importance of UNCTAD’s work and the current economic difficulties which the world is facing and how they need to be tackled.

     The other members of the delegation included, Dr. Manzoor Ahmad, Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the WTO, Geneva. Ambassador Khalid Durrani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Nigeria , concurrently accredited to Ghana. Mr. Ateeq-ur-Rehman, Economic Consultant, Ministry of Commerce. Syed Irtiza Ahmed Zaidi, Project Director, Ministry of Commerce. Syed Ali Asad Gillani, Counsellor Pakistan Mission to the UN, Geneva. Mr. Abdul Zahoor, Deputy Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs