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Economic Issues at UN General Assembly 2012

As the world economy is recovering at a sluggish pace amid increasing downward risks, economic challenges have become hot topics at the ongoing annual debate of the UN General Assembly, which kicked off on Tuesday.

MIXED CHALLENGES

As the first speaker at the general debate, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff dwelled on the current world economic issues, saying that the grave economic crisis beginning in 2008 had taken on new and worrisome contours.

The main developed nations had not yet found the path combining appropriate fiscal adjustments with measures to stimulate investment and demand, and the orthodox fiscal policies were worsening the recession in those economies, said the female president.

Meanwhile, some countries had continued to implement expansionary monetary policy, which caused imbalances in exchange rates and made emerging economies lose market space, she added.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also defined five challenges needed to be addressed, including job crisis, food security, creating inclusive green growth, rolling back protectionist trade measures and decline of development donation to the developing world.

“People want jobs and the prospect of a decent life,” said Ban, adding that all countries must also pay more attention to food security as food prices are increasingly volatile, provoking public anxiety, panic buying and civil disturbance.

In addition, the poor countries are shocked by global economic crisis which originated from developed economies.

“The crisis, from the banking to the balance of payments, mortgage and debt crisis, is affecting all countries without exception, but by far the greater burden is borne by the most vulnerable — poor countries and countries in transition that have not even created it,” asserted Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic in his speech.

The global economic woes tend to persist and have brought longer-lasting consequences than previously thought, while stimulative measures taken by developed economies are causing a series of new problems. These combined factors have increased risks to global economy, noted analysts.

Given the amounting risks from debt crisis and depressed economic performances in developed countries, particularly in Europe, the United Nations has lowered the world economic growth in 2012 to 2.5 percent in its latest estimate.

STRENGTHENED COOPERATION URGED

To resume global economic growth and tackle these multiple challenges, more cooperation in the international community was urged during the general debate.

In Rousseff’s opinion, strengthening cooperation and coordination is the only effective answer to cope with these problems. “There will be no effective response to the economic crisis without strengthened coordination efforts between United Nations members and multilateral bodies such as the G20, the IMF and the World Bank.”

“It is urgent that we build a comprehensive pact for the coordinated resumption of global economic growth,” she noted, adding that this coordination must attempt to reconfigure the relationship between fiscal and monetary policy.

Vuk Jeremic, president of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly, cited “peace and security as a prerequisite for the stability needed for global economic growth, sustainable development, and social progress,” urging all UN member countries to take a united stance over these issues.

Ban, the UN chief, highlighted the importance of developing sustainable energy, calling it “the biggest opportunity of the 21st century” that would not only help transform the world’s energy systems but also the lives of billions of people.

“Sustainable energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, social equity, and a climate and environment that enables the world to thrive,” said the UN secretary-general at a high level meeting on Sustainable Energy for All Initiative.

Moreover, he called for ramping up investments in sustainable agriculture and no trade restrictions on grains or other agricultural products as this could reduce food supplies and discourage farmers from growing more.

In his presentation, U.S. President Barack Obama also urged the world to come together to broaden prosperity at a time of economic challenge, saying the United States has partnered with emerging countries to keep the world on the path of recovery through the G20.

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