U.N. officials ask more from First World nations

Two United Nations officials called Wednesday for developed countries to fulfill their aid pledges for developing countries, stressing that without aid, they run the risk of falling behind as the global economic crisis spreads to their nations.

“Fragilities in the global economy, including the risk of spillovers from developed countries, reversals in private capital inflows, exchange rate misalignments and commodity price volatility, continue to hamper [developing countries’] growth prospects,” said Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser in his remarks to a meeting on financing for development in New York. He is president of the General Assembly.

His message was delivered on his behalf by Gary Quinlan of Australia, assembly vice president. Al-Nasser said that given the current economic environment, it is critical that developing countries undertake measures to address poverty and expand productive employment opportunities, but that to do this they will require considerable levels of external assistance.

Al-Nasser stressed that the current economic downturn will adversely affect foreign direct investment flows to developing countries as well as private capital investment, having a potentially destabilizing effect in their economies.

He also asked countries to address the imbalances on the trade system, as the development potential of international trade continues to be limited by a wide range of tariff and non-tariff restrictions as well as agricultural subsidies in developed countries.

Asha-Rose Migiro, deputy secretary general, echoed Al-Nasser’s remarks, adding that developing countries face a vicious cycle of slow growth, low revenue and high debt. Ms. Migiro said developing countries are in need of additional assistance to be able to cope with the impact of the crisis, yet most donor countries are tightening their budgets.

“Fresh efforts are needed to extend debt relief to the poorest and most vulnerable countries – and, more broadly, to explore how to deal with debt distress more effectively and fairly,” she said.

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