Thursday, December 18, 2008

Financial development and the Doha Round

Here is a nice piece about the future of Doha, financial development, and the current financial crisis. The increase in volume of trade mindset has to be replaced with developing country-specific development mindset. Also, there are dangers of decreasing ODA due to the current financial crisis, whose epicenter is located in the North.

The effectiveness debate must move on from its narrow focus on growth – the new obsession among some bilateral donors – towards its impact on poverty. This is especially so for chronically poor people, many of whom get left behind by growth, even if aid does help to raise the recipient’s growth rate.

As it turns out, the shock has come from the North, first. This demonstrates an iron law of globalization: expect the unexpected. How far the present financial crisis damages the poor economies of the South, and the poor of the South, remains unclear. This is certainly not a good time for countries to mobilize private capital flows via either equity or debt, and foreign direct investment (which has been on the rise) will be threatened by a prolonged global downturn.

Poor economies will therefore need more ODA not less. The G-8 has not delivered on its Gleneagles promises. This is especially disappointing given the hard work that many poor countries have put into building better institutions, especially in the area of public finance management, to absorb and effectively use aid for development and poverty reduction. With climate change now firmly on the development finance agenda, the need for innovative financing mechanisms can only grow. This is not the time to be timid. Can the policymakers of both North and South meet the challenge? Or will narrow political agendas prevail? And will the needs of the world’s poorest people – the 1.4 billion – prevail? Time will tell.