Economic and Development Policy Is Focus of Economic and Social Council at Second 1986 Session

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Economic and development policy is focus of Economic and Social Council at second 1986 session

Action on a broad range of economicissues dominated the work of the Economic and Social Council at its second regular 1986 session (Geneva, 2-23 July).

Among the 32 resolutions and 33decisions adopted by the 54-member Council were those relating to operational activities for development, regional economic co-operation, human resources, technical co-operation, food problems and energy, as well as transnational corporations, transport of dangerous goods and women in development. Texts on special economic, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance, and drought and desertification were also approved.

Several resolutions adopted by theCouncil concerned assistance to Africa. Assistance to the Palestinians, natural resources in the occupied territories, and a request by Israel to join the Economic Commission for Europe were the focus of other texts.

The Council devoted plenary meetingsduring the four-week session to general discussion of international economic and social policy, including regional and sectoral developments, and approved action on various aspects of the question. After failing to agree on conclusions on the "Inter-related issues of money, finance, debt, resource flows, trade and development", as requested by the General Assembly at its resumed session in 1986, the Council recommended that the Assembly continue discussion of the subject at its forty-first session.

Secretary-General Javier Perez deCuellar, addressing the Council on 2 July, said that although the world economy had recovered from the "depths of the early 1980s" and inflation was largely under control, overall growth remained modest and imbalances still prevailed.

He called for action to correct globaleconomic imbalances, including vigorous steps on debt and finance. Creditor Governments and financial institutions must provide additional public funds, including long-term and concessional funds, the Secretary-General said. "Interest rates must also be reduced", he added, and "in the case of many low-income countries, part of the debt must be written off or paid in local currencies". As the Committee for Development Planning had recommended, a "bolder plan" on a "truly global scale" was needed, Mr. Perez de Cuellar affirmed.

To counteract the deterioration ofcommodity prices--"a key factor in the difficulties faced by many developing countries"--compensatory financing facilites must be enlarged and made more accessible, the Secretary-General stressed. "Now is the appropriate time to consider the dangers of continuing uncertainty in the international energy situation, especially oil", he said.

A third area requiring corrective action,according to Mr. Perez de Cuellar, was the recent increase in trade friction, "attributable to the impact of low overall economic growth and resulting protectionist measures". A successful outcome of upcoming negotiations on textiles, an important export item for many developing countries, would set a "propitious stage" for the September meeting of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) on a new round of trade negotiations, he said. But the "fight against protectionism must be continuous", the Secretary-General warned, "and trade liberalization measures taken as soon as possible".

Finally, the Secretary-General emphasized,"policies more directly aimed at promoting steadier growth in the developed countries are needed".

The modest economic recovery in afew developed countries had failed to reach most of the developing countries, observed Council President Manuel dos Santos (mozanbique), in opening the session on 2 July. Furthermore, he added, the "stream of resource flows" from developed to developing countries had decreased to such an extent it had almost dried up.

Shuaib U. Yolah, Under-Secretary-Generalfor International Economic and Social Affairs, told the Council on 3 July that the widening gap between developed and developing countries underscored the dual task of expanding international co-operation while enhancing confidence in the orderly management of international economic relations. …