Statement by Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations Middle-income countries: The role and presence of the United Nations for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals

Ertuğrul Apakan 30.01.2012
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank the specialized UN Agencies for jointly organizing this meeting. And, I would like to thank for inviting me as a panelist to such an important gathering.

Middle Income Countries are becoming more important by day in the global economy, and, thus, not only their circle of impact is increasing, so does their stake in the face of issues such as poverty eradication, food security, energy security and climate change.

MICs have an unfinished development agenda. Despite the fact that MICs have great achievements towards the objectives of the MDGs and economic growth over the last decade, they have diverse development needs. There are significant disparities within MICs, sometimes even from extreme rich to extreme poor levels. MICs are still highly vulnerable to external shocks. In this context, MICs need to sustain their economic growth. However, it must be complemented with effective social policies and specific pro-poor initiatives.

Today, the nature of the debate on poverty has changed qualitatively. Many previously low-income countries have crossed the line into the middle income country category. MICs account for about half the global population. And, they are home to more than 70 per cent of the world’s 960 million poor people. In other words, most of the world's poor no longer live in Least Developed Countries. In this regard, the global development endeavor must take into consideration the needs and complex challenges of MICs.

Quite a few G20 members are MICs and home to a significant poor population. But, they are emerging economies with increasing political and economic strengths in the international arena.

Many of the MICs may still need aid. However, aid to those countries increasingly requires non-traditional approaches and tailoring. Because, MICs are a diverse group with usually complex internal political dynamics and entails more detailed sub-categories for planning and decision-making. In the emerging powers among MICs, aid is small compared with the size of their economies, but there are substantial pockets of poverty.

It is a high priority that MICs integrate good practices into their code of business, and through South-South cooperation, MICs can help pull LDCs to enhanced economic growth and development.

The UN has a central role to play in achievement of internationally agreed development goals in MICs. As the Secretary General articulated in his five year action agenda, the principal mission of the UN is to keep the world solidly on track to meet poverty reduction targets focusing on inequalities, making particular efforts in countries with special needs. UN should continue to promote inclusive economic growth and socially and environmentally sustainable development in MICs.

UN can support MICs with its unique strengths in designing and implementation of economic and social policies as well as building institutional capacities. A forward-looking orientation, reflecting the dynamism of many MICs, needs to be demonstrated by the UN.

Distinguished Delegates,

Let me try to address some of the questions raised by the Secretariat for this meeting.
Firstly, what would be the priorities of MICs in addressing global collective action problems, such as climate change, continuous food insecurity and effects of rapid urbanization and migration upsurge?
It is commonly recognized that without international collaboration on many fronts, issues such as food insecurity, migration, climate change cannot be addressed effectively. Clearly, such collaboration must take on board MICs extensively.

MICs are experiencing higher food price inflation compared to other countries. It has a significant impact on poverty. Therefore, immediate actions including social assistance and nutritional programs to the poorest in countries and areas where food prices have spiked are essential.

Poverty, unemployment and income differences in MICs are the main reasons for migration from rural to urban areas as well as across political boundaries. Sustained and inclusive economic growth and sustainable development are the only remedy for migration dynamics which create political and social burdens as well as pressures on urban environments.

While securing a comprehensive future climate change regime applicable to all parties, the peculiarities of MICs need to be taken into consideration.

Secondly, what are the successes and pitfalls in the United Nations facilitation of South-South and triangular cooperation?

South-south and triangular cooperation are highly desirable for MICs from the point of view of broadening development partnership. But, these should not be seen as substitutes to North-South partnerships or the ODA commitments by traditional donors.

UN has many different experiences and skill-base in terms of development. UN is in good relationships with many national governments and building capacity for development. It is moving forward in the process of strengthening its support system to developing countries towards strategic partnerships. It is the time for the UN to mobilize its resources more effectively than before, and facilitate multilateral cooperation at global, regional and national levels.

Most of the pitfalls would be within the category of organization challenges, such as delivering as one, and coordinating among the many different agencies, since the agenda is more comprehensive and inter-related.

UN should respond to non-traditional challenges of MICs by new, specific and demand driven approaches. Establishment of centers of excellences to address specific national and regional needs would be an appropriate approach by the UN.
Thirdly, how much does South-South cooperation benefit low-income and least developed countries?

There exists a growing interest in many countries in the South to be an emerging donor. It's not only about the financial resources but about the knowledge sharing as well.

For LDCs, benefiting from the experiences of major development partners in the South is of significant importance. This can happen through three main channels: (a) supporting capacity building efforts; (b) sharing policy lessons; and (c) providing alternative sources of finance. Productive capacities in LDCs can be developed through official financial flows for production and infrastructure, direct investment and technology transfer as well as provision of preferential market access. In fact, these aspects apply to MICs.
And, lastly, how can win-win situations be created for all categories of countries in terms of achievement of internationally agreed development goals, producing regional and global public goods and resolution of global problems?
Addressing global development problems necessitates clear understanding on economic and social interests of all countries. As soon as the understanding is clear, the policies and actions would be towards genuine cooperation at regional and global levels.

There are already many accomplished examples of regional cooperation, and their numbers are increasing. The concept of “developmental regionalism” integrates internal economic development with strategic regional trading blocs, and thus with the world economy. It further goes beyond the domain of trade and includes other, more ambitious forms of intervention, such as industrial policy. In fact, such a perspective should include all categories of countries, thereby creating a win-win situation.

Sub-regional approaches and investing in neighbors have positive impacts for both sides. For example, proactive cooperation among China, Japan and the Republic of Korea generates synergy for technological development, innovation and international competitiveness. Moreover, the East Asian Growth Area, which includes Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines, is an effective model for fostering sub-regional economic integration.

Distinguished Delegates,

Turkey is a rapidly developing upper middle-income country. We have gained important experiences in our development process, in particular in long and medium term development planning, poverty eradication, rural development, empowerment of women and effective inclusion of the private sector in sustainable development.
Turkey has significant track record in attaining MDGs and best practices in education, health and gender issues.

As an emerging economy and donor country, we stand ready to share our experiences with MICs and other developing countries such as LDCs and SIDS.
We also attach paramount importance to the South-South cooperation. In this regard, we are prepared to scale up our partnerships at regional and global levels to create win-win solutions.

Thank you for your attention.