The 7th Session of the UNCTAD Multi-Year Expert Meeting on Trade, Services and Development convened in Geneva from 1 to 2 May 2019, under the chairmanship of Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva.
Interactive discussions covering several areas of importance for developing and least developed countries, aimed to enhance productive capacity through services, took place during the meeting.
Being the first UN meeting to take place under Sri Lanka’s presidency following the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks, the meeting provided a platform for UN officials, experts and delegates to express their strong condemnation of the dastardly attacks and to assure sympathy and support for Sri Lanka.
Addressing the opening session of the meeting, UNCTAD Deputy Secretary General Isabelle Durant, followed by many delegations, expressed their solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka against the heinous acts which led to the loss of hundreds of innocent lives and injury to many. The Deputy Secretary General assured support for Sri Lanka, within the competence of UNCTAD, to help national efforts in re-establishing the resilience of Sri Lanka’s trade and economic sectors including tourism.
During his opening remarks, Ambassador Azeez acknowledged the sentiments of solidarity that were expressed, and reaffirmed the resolve of the Government and people of Sri Lanka to take all necessary measures aimed at defeating terrorism and to emerge stronger as a vibrant society and a robust economy.
Reflecting on the main theme of the Expert Meeting and its relevance to developing countries, the Ambassador stated that the services sector represented the highest amount of economic activity in the world, contributing to a growing share of the GDP, trade and employment of nations, and benefiting nations by providing inputs to other sectors of the economy through the creation of production linkages.
He stressed that Sri Lanka will redouble its efforts, in the years to come, to both contribute to and benefit from production linkages as well as global and regional connectivity offered by trade in services.
The 2-day session focused on a number of specific themes of policy priority for developing countries, including the relationship between services and productive capacity, increasing services provision, digital services, and promoting the role of services through international cooperation.