Governments must move from rhetoric to action and urgently honour their political and financial commitments to development, a group of United Nations human rights experts has said in a joint statement* marking the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Right to Development by the United Nations General Assembly, on Sunday, 4 December.
Without fresh commitment and finance, the ground-breaking Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will not be met by their target date of 2030, the experts warn. “The SDGs will remain empty promises without proper political and financial commitment, regulation, management, and related safeguards.”
Global Financial Integrity (GFI), the Centre for Applied Research at the Norwegian School of Economics and a team of global experts have released a study showing that since 1980 developing countries lost US$16.3 trillion dollars through broad leakages in the balance of payments, trade misinvoicing, and recorded financial transfers. These resources represent immense social costs that have been borne by the citizens of developing countries around the globe. Funding for the report was provided by the Research Council of Norway, and research assistance was provided by economists in Brazil, India, and Nigeria.
Africa is losing large amounts of money through trade misinvoicing and leakages in the balance of payment with the active connivance of its political class, making illicit financial flows (IFFs) one of the major sources of economic loss to the continent.
Through the manipulation of trade figures and leakages in the balance of payment, all African countries put together lost more than $862.6 billion from 2004 to 2013 according to ghanabusinessnews.com computations of data published by the Global Finance Integrity, (GFI) a not-for-profit research organization based in Washington DC that focuses on illicit financial flows.
The implementation of bilateral free trade agreements, the FTAs, began 25 years ago, with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, Mexico and the United States. The European Union, which was initially reluctant to sign bilateral FTAs, also adopted them. In our region, Chile was the first South American country to sign an FTA with the US. Then came Peru and Colombia.
Why did countries prefer bilateral agreements - and then the larger FTAs, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership that has the participation of 12 countries - instead of negotiating at the World Trade Organization (WTO)? Let us recall that from 1948 to 1995 there were 8 negotiation rounds with the participation of all of its members, which reduced tariffs sharply, with the objective of facilitating and promoting free trade.
“In January 1947, U. S. President Harry Truman appointed George Marshall, the architect of victory during WWII, to be Secretary of State. In just a few months, State Department leadership under Marshall with expertise provided by George Kennan, William Clayton and others crafted the Marshall Plan concept, officially known as the European Recovery Program (ERP), the Marshall Plan was intended to rebuild the economies and spirits of Western Europe.”
That is how one document online opens the Chapter of what has become the most painful invention in Africa and for poor countries-Aid.