Home » Business » Participants Stress Key Role of Science, Technology in Achieving 2030 Agenda Goals, as Economic and Social Council Continues Forum on Financing for Development

Ministers and high‑level representatives today adopted a series of conclusions and recommendations on financing for development and the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as the Economic and Social Council’s forum on financing for development entered its second day.

In adopting the text on development financing and the 2030 Agenda (document E/FFDF/2018/L.2), forum participants stressed the critical role of science, technology and innovation in achieving the future development goals.  Further, they stressed that investing in quality, accessible, affordable, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including transport, energy, water and sanitation for all, would be vital for the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Further to the text, officials stressed that capacity development would be essential for achieving the 2030 Agenda and that capacity development must be country‑driven, address the specific needs and conditions of countries and reflect national sustainable development strategies and priorities.  It was also decided that the fourth Economic and Social Council forum on financing for development would be held from 15 to 18 April 2019.

Prior to the adoption of the draft text, participants took part in two ministerial round table discussions that touched on key issues including the need for domestic resource mobilization and private sector investment as well as the importance of expanding tax revenue collection capacities for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Speaking in the first round table of the day, Régis Immongault, Minister for Economy, Forecasting and Sustainable Development Programming of Gabon, emphasized that his country would need to mobilize domestic resources to attain the future development goals, underscoring that the private sector would be a driving force, although tax systems needed to be reinforced to guarantee the mobilization of domestic resources.

In that connection, the Government of Gabon had created a new office to address tax fraud and repair the country’s fiscal system, he said, although there were barriers in the system due to protectionism.  The Council should be a leader and push for a consensus that would ensure that the progress that had been made was not compromised due to protectionism behaviour, he added.

Admasu Nebebe, Ethiopia’s State Minister for Finance and Economic Cooperation, highlighted that his country had heavily invested in building its tax revenue mobilization capacity.  The Government had focused a great deal of attention on institution‑building and reforming the country’s customs authority, while also establishing a new tax policy directorate.  He highlighted that Ethiopia had put in place a number of income tax laws in 2016 with the aim of increasing fairness in the tax system as well as broadening the tax base.

Hadizatou Rosine Coulibaly, Minister for Economy, Finance and Development of Burkina Faso, said it had also prioritized modernizing tax collection capacities by taking an in‑depth look at its existing tax system.  That review had revealed that information exchange with border countries needed to be improved, she said, noting that border agents had been trained with that goal in mind.  Among other efforts in Burkina Faso included one aimed at the geo‑localization of merchandise, which would allow the country to locate trucks and ensure that merchandise would pass through customs.

Drawing attention to his country’s use of information and communication technologies, Väino Reinart, Under‑Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, said such systems had a large impact on tax administration, including by significantly reducing costs.  The use of those technologies also helped improve the effectiveness of tax administration.  Information and communications technology had also helped enhance the ability of tax administrations to counter all forms of illicit activities, including money‑laundering, he said, while the inherent transparency created through the use of information and communications technology also helped promote good governance.

Mustafa Mastoor, Minister for Economy of Afghanistan, told the Council that the 2030 Agenda could help nations to overcome socioeconomic, environmental and security challenges, although in his country, a development culture needed to be promoted so that all stakeholders were speaking with one voice.  Despite Afghanistan having received some $85 billion over the last 16 years from the international community, he said that the most recent survey conducted in the country indicated that 54 per cent of Afghans lived below the national poverty line, 24 per cent of the population was unemployed and its imports stood at 91 per cent.

In other business, the Council held an interactive dialogue with various intergovernmental bodies, including the Bretton Woods Institutions, as well as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).  The discussion focused on two main themes — disaster risk and resilience and taxation in the digitalized economy — with participants exploring ways to improve mutual understanding and coherence among the policymaking bodies of the international trade and finance institutions.

The Economic and Social Council will resume its forum on financing for development at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 25 April.

Ministerial Round Table 3

The first ministerial round table of the day was moderated by Marie Chatardova (Czechia), President of the Economic and Social Council.  Panellists included Abul Maal A. Muhith, Minister for Finance of Bangladesh; Mustafa Mastoor, Minister for Economy of Afghanistan; Régis Immongault, Minister for Economy, Forecasting and Sustainable Development Programming of Gabon; Batyr Bazarov, Minister for Finance and Economy of Turkmenistan; Fabio Kanczuk, Secretary for Economic Policy, Ministry of Finance of Brazil; and Admasu Nebebe, State Minister for Finance and Economic Cooperation of Ethiopia.

The lead discussants were Väino Reinart, Under‑Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia; Noel González Segura, Director General of Planning and Policies for International Development Cooperation of Mexico; and Lidy Nacpil, Coordinator, Jubilee South Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development.

Mr. MUHITH said that when creating Bangladesh’s most recent budget proposal, his primary objective was to develop a larger budget because it presented an opportunity to provide more services.  The most important aspect of the budget was the mobilization of domestic resources, which had been increasing by approximately 11 to 12 per cent each year.  The budget was issued in two parts; one of which addressed revenue such as expenditures, while the other part focused on development and was meant for new projects and the acquisition of new assets.  That type of budget division had been in place in Bangladesh since 1958, he said, noting that personally, he preferred a unified, rather than divided budget.  Although in the past, budgets often contained new elements, that was not the case with the most recent budget proposal.  Budget implementation had been a weak point, despite the fact that a great deal of attention had been paid to it.

Mr. MASTOOR said that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development could help nations to overcome the socioeconomic, environmental and security challenges they faced.  Afghanistan was committed to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals and had achieved great progress during the last decade, particularly in reducing infant and child mortality rates.  Nevertheless, there remained areas where his country lagged behind, including with regard to gender equality and poverty eradication.  In the last 16 years, $85 billion had been spent by the international community in Afghanistan; yet the most recent survey indicated that some 54 per cent of his people lived below the national poverty line, 24 per cent of the population was unemployed and the country’s imports stood at 91 per cent.  A development culture needed to be promoted across Afghanistan so that all stakeholders were speaking with one voice.

Mr. IMMONGAULT said that Gabon had a strategy in place that emphasized structural reform and set a certain dynamic for the private sector with a focus on macroeconomic stabilization.  His country needed to mobilize domestic resources to attain the future development goals, he said, noting that the private sector was a driving force, while tax systems needed to be reinforced to guarantee the mobilization of domestic resources.  The Government had created a new resource office to address tax fraud and repair the country’s fiscal system.  There were barriers in the system due to protectionism, which was a worrisome trend.  The Council should be a leader and push for a consensus that ensured that the progress that had been made was not compromised due to protectionism behaviour.  The international community must also be attentive and open‑minded regarding debt viability in developing countries, particularly those in Africa.

Mr. BAZAROV noted that Turkmenistan was among the first countries in the region that had nationalized the Sustainable Development Goals based on a three‑stage strategy developed in collaboration with the United Nations.  In 2017, it had put in motion a plan aimed at implementing the Goals in Turkmenistan and promoting sustainable development in the country.  Three main areas — sustainable economic growth, social well‑being and environmental security — were included in the midterm programme recently adopted in the country.  The policies being pursued in Turkmenistan were shaped around economic models for intensive growth based on the optimum use of natural resources, including those focused on energy and raw materials.  His country was carrying out far‑reaching reforms related to Government investment and subsidies, innovation and the development of human capital.  Of significant importance were efforts to increase the interlinkages between infrastructure to improve trade competitiveness.

Mr. KANCZUK said that Brazil was focusing on both private and public financing to help address its development needs.  Regarding private finance, two initiatives had been launched; one of which focused on green bonds, while the other dealt with performance bonds.  There was a lot of interest in Brazil with regard to the role of public finance for the attainment of the future development goals.  His country had found that the rates of return for specific projects could vary significantly depending on the particular project being evaluated.  Based on his country’s experiences, it was clear that private and public initiatives should not be viewed as substitutes for one another, but rather were complementary and had far‑reaching impacts on the development of countries.

Mr. NEBEBE said that Ethiopia had a five‑year development plan that had fully mainstreamed the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  Regarding domestic resource mobilization, Ethiopia had heavily invested in its tax revenue mobilization capacity.  The Government had focused a great deal of attention on institution‑building and the reform of the country’s customs authority, while also establishing a new tax policy directorate.  Ethiopia had put in place a number of income tax laws in 2016, with the aim of increasing fairness in the tax system as well as broadening the tax base.  Further, the country launched an initiative with a view towards tax transformation for sustainable development, which sought to reform a number of priority areas.

Mr. REINART said that from his country’s experience, the use of information and communications technologies had a significant impact on tax administration.  First and foremost, the use of information and communications helped to reduce costs significantly.  Such technologies also helped improved the effectiveness of tax administration, particularly with regard to controls and audits.  Further, it enhanced the ability of tax administrations to counter all forms of illicit activities, including money‑laundering.  He went on to note that the inherent transparency created by the use of information and communications technologies helped promote good governance.  Estonia was eager to share its experiences with Member States and had directly engaged with other countries with a view towards educating them about their tax administration systems.

Mr. SEGURA underlined that the upturn of the global economy had created favourable conditions for development in Mexico and had resulted in more efficient economic processes, strengthened infrastructure and dynamics that allowed people and businesses to benefit from economic improvements.  Mexico recognized that tax collection was the key for development on the national level, and in that connection, it had put in place a strengthened fiscal system for collection.  He recalled that the Monterrey Consensus had identified the importance of an enabling environment that could offer prospects for trade and development without the risk of economic volatility.

Ms. NACPIL was pleased that the debt problem being faced by many countries was receiving the greater attention that it deserved.  However, that issue should not be referred to as a “looming” crisis, as there were currently several countries in a dire economic situation, some of which had been hit especially hard during the 2017 hurricane season in the Caribbean.  Although it was a positive development that climate finance was being discussed, it was not acceptable that climate finance was being discussed in terms of international development cooperation or official development assistance (ODA).  The private sector should contribute much more than it was currently providing to development and climate issues, although the modality for those contributions remained undefined.

In the ensuing discussion, a member of the civil society stressed that the international community could not address debt crises using unstable financial tools.  In that connection, he stressed that urgent progress must be made in the creation of better institutions that were designed to address debt crises.

Responding to the comment by the member of civil society, Mr. IMMONGAULT said that in some countries, high levels of public debt constituted a vulnerability when it came to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ministerial Round Table 4

The day’s second ministerial round table, also chaired by Ms. CHATARDOVA, included the following panellists:  Hadizatou Rosine Coulibaly, Minister for Economy, Finance and Development of Burkina Faso; George Gyan‑Baffour, Minister for Planning of Ghana; Mohamed Osman Suliman Elrkabi, Minister for Finance and National Economy of Sudan; Qahhorzoda Fayziddin, Minister for Finance of Tajikistan; P.A. Chinamasa, Minister for Finance and Economic Development of Zimbabwe; Jens Frølich Holte, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway; Bary Emmanuel Rafatrolaza, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Madagascar.

Lead discussants included Nim Dorji, Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Bhutan; Miguel Angel Estuardo Moir Sandoval, Secretary for Planning of Guatemala; and Michael Baldinger, Head of Sustainable and Impact Investing, UBS.

Mr. GYAN‑BAFFOUR stated that Ghana was preparing itself to move beyond aid by using all of its own resources effectively and attracting external private finances.  Ghana was taking steps and initiatives to increase domestic resources, including a national identification programme and a reform of the tax policy.  Long‑term investments in sustainable developments were insufficient.  Countries needed to reduce investment risk and develop enabling environments.  An open dialogue was necessary for a new trade agreement in favour of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Ghana had signed an agreement for an external partnership to ensure the resilience of cocoa price as the market was volatile.

Ms. COULIBALY said that Burkina Faso was going through an improvement of its general economy.  The country had developed a social strategy for 2016‑2020 that took into account the Sustainable Development Goals.  An in‑depth look at the tax system had been undertaken to modernize its collection system.  Information exchange with border countries needed to be improved and border agents had been trained with that goal.  Online tax payment would be established thanks to several partnerships.  The geo‑localization of merchandise would allow the country to locate trucks and ensure that merchandise would pass through customs.  A census would be implemented which would also help the tax reform.  A one window system had been established to facilitate the creation of business in the country.  She noted that despite the efforts undertaken, ODA had decreased and called on the international community to follow through with its commitment.

Mr. SULIMAN ELRKABI said that plans in Sudan were aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and other internationally agreed agendas.  The private sector was vital for the economic activity of the State.  The strategy for poverty alleviation was being finalized and was in line with the 2030 Agenda.  Sudan relied on its own resources and created institutions to follow up on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Necessary measures were taken to increase tax collection as well as productivity.  The public deficit had been reduced and the poor were being assisted.  Sudan had signed a peace agreement and had lost more than 70 per cent of foreign resources.  His country was left to handle its reconstruction alone with high and costly loans.  Limited assistance from the Gulf had been received but difficult measures had to be taken considering how fragile the country was.  Sanctions imposed on Sudan for more than 20 years had challenged the economy and their repercussions were ongoing.  He called on the international community to provide the necessary finances where needed and to ensure the transfer of technology at a decent cost.

Mr. FAYZIDDIN said that Tajikistan implemented a national development strategy to incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals.  Eradicating poverty remained an issue for the country, and food and energy security, water access and climate change were also key challenges.  The trans‑Asian pipeline in Central Asia was amongst the key transportation projects that would help in implementing the 2030 Agenda.  Resources had to be mobilized, including from the private sector and from ODA.

Mr. CHINAMASA said Zimbabwe aimed to become a middle‑income country by 2030.  The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals was a priority for his nation.  The infrastructure was dilapidated, and because of sanctions its economy had become largely informal and left in political and economic isolation.  Public‑private partnerships were facilitated through reforms.  The Government should be given the necessary, disaggregated data on the informal sector in order to put together necessary policies.  Obstacles for doing efficient business should be identified.  Tax collection had to be improved and a cargo tracking system had been established which would improve revenue.  The lack of control over the currency was a major challenge.  Agriculture was a priority for the Government so it could stimulate the rest of the economy.

Mr. FRØLICH HOLTE stated that, despite the opportunity the upturn in the global economy provided, caution had to be applied.  The private sector had to redeploy their assets.  Norway supported action to support the multilateral trade system.  The potential for domestic resource mobilization, including through taxation, was important.  Tax aid served as an effective tool and a great opportunity.  A looming debt crisis was a potential trap.  Financial intelligence units had to be invested in order to avoid the threat of illicit financial flow.

Mr. RAFATROLAZA said that Madagascar adopted a modernization strategy to improve State revenue.  The Government had implemented new legislation on public‑private partnerships with solid results including on renewable energy.  The business environment had been improved, including through the improvement of customs systems.  Madagascar faced several challenges to mobilize resources.  Climate change effects were the main challenge the country faced.  In addition, fiscal control had become more complex.

Mr. DORJI said that Bhutan was a small landlocked country with a small economy and a rising public debt, vulnerable to climate change impacts.  But the country had reduced poverty, and the Sustainable Development Goals had been integrated into their national plans.  Attempts were made to broaden the tax base.  Bhutan was committed to improving tax efficiency including through the introduction of modernized technologies.  Public‑private policies had been adopted.  The support of external partners remained critical.

Mr. ESTUARDO MOIR SANDOVAL said that the Sustainable Development Goals had been integrated in Guatemala’s policies since 2015.  Discussion on the expenses and assets of the country for health, water and education were ongoing.  Greater efficiency in aid and cooperation was an important goal.  Trade was a tool for local development with small- and medium‑sized enterprises.  There should be a revitalization for the criteria for aid to development.  South‑South cooperation would allow countries to share knowledge.

Mr. BALDINGER said that UBS was proud of its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, and that it was well placed to help meet its targets.  The financial markets were the most powerful tool for transformation by focusing on innovation and partnering to foster the change and generate investment for social good.  A UBS global gender equality fund had been launched to support Sustainable Development Goal 5.  The role of the investment community would be crucial and new innovative partnerships would be key to meeting the Goals.

A representative of Public Service International (Ghana) said that poverty and unemployment of youth were very high in their country, and that environmental degradation was a reality.

Another representative of African civil society denounced the lack of ambition of the continent’s leaders towards fighting illicit flows of more than $50 billion a year which had weakened domestic resource mobilization in Africa.

Interactive Dialogue

Moderated by Zain Asher, Anchor, CNN, statements were provided by:  Ms. CHATARDOVA; Lesetja Kganyago, Chair, International Monetary and Financial Committee; Tudor Ulianovschi, President, Trade and Development Board, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); Dominique Bichara, Director, Corporate Secretariat (on behalf of the Chair of Development Committee), World Bank Group.

Opening remarks were delivered by Merza Hasan, Dean of the Board of Executive Directors, World Bank Group; and Aleksei Mozhin, Dean of the Executive Board, International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Ms. CHATARDOVA said that the financial damage caused by natural disasters added up to hundreds of billions of dollars every year and some of the most vulnerable countries were heavily affected.  More resources had to be mobilized and risk and resilience had to become part of relevant budgeting and financing processes in all countries.

The digitalization of the economy offered the potential for many countries to quickly move up the productivity and income ladder, she continued, however rules and regulations had to ensure that such benefits were shared evenly and risks were minimized.  Tax administrations of developing countries should not be left behind because of their financial and technological constraints.  Developing countries had to be supported to develop tax norms and standards that were consistent with the progress at the international level on the taxation of the digital economy.

Mr. ULIANOVSCHI stated that the global economy had not been able to take off, and the existing threat of climate change was on a massive scale.  Financing for development required a new approach to development.  The key of the Sustainable Development Goals was that development was universal, not an intellectual and abstract exercise.  UNCTAD offered a transformative process by nature, as was financing for development.  The Conference was transforming the way they worked.

Mr. KGANYAGO said that 15 years on, the outcome of the Monterrey conference remained a valid reference point.  During that time the world had made significant progress in reducing poverty levels, increasing the provision of basic services and promoting women’s equality, although that progress had slowed following the 2008 global economic crisis.  Delivering on the promise of leaving no one behind would require policy actions and reforms which were often politically difficult, he said, adding that the current upturn in the global economy provided an important opportunity.  He stressed the need to enhance economic resilience in both low- and high‑income countries.  Shocks, including those from the economic impact of disasters, could not be underestimated and could be more severe depending on the size of the States involved.  Raising the potential for stronger and more inclusive growth was a priority.

Ms. BICHARA said that the Development Committee had a fruitful meeting during the spring meetings of the World Bank and IMF.  The financial package agreed upon was considered transformative.  Development progress remained uneven.  The private sector needed to play a more important role on development and poverty reduction.  The value of multilateral development banks was recognized.

Mr. HASAN said financing for development was a key forum for the Sustainable Development Goals and eradicating poverty.  The private sector was key going forward, but ODA was still very much needed for developing countries.  Partnerships were needed between all players to involve the private sector.  Supporting domestic resource mobilization was key.  Some countries were late on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Mr. MOZHIN said that IMF and the World Bank were committed to supporting countries suffering from climate change effects and building resilience.  Financial integrity and resilience were also supported and encouraged by some IMF initiatives.  The Fund would continue its role on tax issues and the mobilization of national resources, with technical advice to developing countries amongst other initiatives.  On trade and global unbalances, IMF would conduct a rigorous assessment of excessive global unbalances.

Interactive Dialogue, Topic I:  Disaster Risk and Resilience

Moderated by Zain Asher, Anchor, CNN, panellists included:  Aparna Subramani, Executive Director, India, World Bank Group; Nancy Horsman, Executive Director, Canada, International Monetary Fund; Jerry Matthews Matjila (South Africa), Vice‑President of the Economic and Social Council; Mami Mizutori (Japan), Assistant Secretary‑General and Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Ms. SUBRAMANI stated that a $5 billion a year fund had been set up by the World Bank in 2016 to strengthen disaster resilience.  Disasters would not wait for us so we had to plan for them, she noted.  The Bank was now integrating disaster risk reduction into its country strategy.

Ms. HORSMAN said that IMF and the World Bank were deepening their contributions to help countries increase their disaster preparedness plans.  Both were working in Seychelles and Saint Lucia to implement general preparedness for climate change and identify areas for capacity‑building, such as risk preparation.  They were also helping countries with State‑contingent debt instruments to provide cash flow relief after disaster hit.  In addition, the Fund was working with partners on strategies to build resilience to external shocks, and success would require countries to adjust their financing planning.

Mr. MATJILA said that natural disasters could wipe out decades of investments.  Several disasters in 2017 had put the spotlight on the vulnerability of some countries affected.  The Economic and Social Council had convened a special meeting on resilience in October 2017 in which the importance of early warning systems were highlighted.  Investments were an opportunity to provide disaster risk and enhance the focus on prevention.  The Council was committed to ensuring strong progress on the ground for disaster risk prevention and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ms. MIZUTORI said that the backdrop of the current discussion on disaster risk reduction was being driven by a number of unfortunate realities.  Most notably that included the terrible disasters that hit the world in 2017 such as the hurricanes in the Caribbean, earthquakes in Mexico and floods in parts of Africa.  She noted that the deliberations on the agreed conclusions and recommendations had looked into disaster risk and resilience from many angles, which was encouraging.  The lingering question was how to move more promptly towards prevention, risk reduction and preparedness.  She drew attention to the target contained within the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015‑2030 to increase the number of States that had a national strategy in place in that regard.  The goal should be for States to create strategies that focused on managing risk, rather than managing disasters.  Such strategies should contain dedicated budgets and staff, and must include linkages to national ministries of finance and development while also containing legal frameworks.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Japan said that investing in unplanned and unpredictable areas such as impending disasters was extremely difficult and required strong political leadership.

The delegate of Cuba said that many of the projects aimed at building resilience to disasters did not lead to development, nor were they sustainable.

Iran’s representative said that dust storms were a serious concern for his region, although that threat did not receive as much international attention as it deserved.

Interactive Dialogue, Topic II:  Taxation in the Digitalized Economy

Also moderated by Ms. ASHER, the interactive dialogue included the following panellists:  Masaaki Kaizuka, Executive Director, Japan, International Monetary Fund; Hervé De Villeroché, Executive Director, France, World Bank Group; Francisco Duarte Lopes, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the United Nations; Martin Kreienbaum, Chair, Committee on Fiscal Affairs, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Mr. KAIZUKA said that taxation in the digital economy was an important topic as it was at a turning point.  There was no consensus emerging on the issue at OECD, and IMF was not a standard setting body but could do research and provide inputs on the topic.  Viable data collection — which was key for policy formulation and discussion — was an important mission of IMF.  The collaboration between the United Nations, OECD, the World Bank and IMF was essential.

Mr. DE VILLEROCHÉ stated that, looking at development needs in low‑income countries, the public sector would remain at the core and domestic resource mobilization was key.  Digitalization of tax processes brought new questions although it was much needed and would help in many regards.  Digitalization could help to introduce new taxes and simplify the capacity of the general public to pay them.  It came with risks as well and taxing digital activities was an issue to be discussed by all countries.  Europe had taken provisionary measures on the taxation of digital activities.  Digitalization was a tool for Governments to rethink their tax systems.

Mr. DUARTE LOPES said that digitalization of the economy had created many challenges for tax systems.  While the issue was identified years ago, there was now a sense of urgency.  Digitalization also offered opportunities for tax administration, but more countries should not be left behind because of their delay on that matter.

Mr. KREIENBAUM said that developing countries formed an integral part of the inclusive framework processes of the taxation of digitalized economies.  Among the most pressing questions was how the international tax community could ensure a universal and fair approach in designing rules and allocating rights in response to the digitization of economies, while also ensuring the needs and capacities of developing countries would be considered.  Stressing that developing countries were not best served by a variety of different interim changes, he said that a consistent approach was needed.  The participation of developing countries in the inclusive framework would ensure that their needs and capacities would be taken into account.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Guatemala said that, rather than overall tax reform, integral tax reform would be more effective, particularly as it could lead to simpler tax return systems, including those aided by new technologies.

A member of civil society said that only the United Nations was poised to lead any future international tax reform efforts which would allow both developed and developing countries to participate as equals.

Action

The forum then turned to the draft intergovernmentally agreed conclusions and recommendations contained in the document titled, “Follow‑up and review of the financing for development outcomes and the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (document E/FFDF/2018/L.2).

Co‑facilitator Francisco Duarte Lopes (Portugal) said that the negotiations on the outcome document were conducted in a productive spirit and with active engagement from all sides.  The text acknowledged the importance of the global economic upturn, although there was still a risk to volatility.  He noted that the text included an emphasis on enhanced action to increase environmental resilience benefits and the potential risks of new technologies.  The document also noted the need for additional financing for infrastructure, while also calling attention to climate and blended finance.

The representative of the European Union, speaking before the adoption, said that while the bloc had joined consensus on the outcome document, it was concerned about the absence of an emphasis on multilateralism in the context of international trade and regretted that the fundamental principle of leaving no one behind was not included in the outcome document.

The representative of the United States said that her country disassociated itself from language in the outcome document that suggested that any country or group of countries was more worthy of benefiting from trade agreements than any other nation.  The Council was not the appropriate forum for discussions on operational issues related to the Green Climate Fund.  The United States also disassociated itself from specific language on intellectual property rights and believed that portions of the outcome document undermined the international community’s ability to work constructively on issues related to money‑laundering, corruption and related crimes.

The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that multilateralism had proved to be the most appropriate method to address global challenges, and in that connection, the adoption of the agreed conclusions and recommendations was indicative of the continued commitment to multilateralism.

The representative of Mexico said his delegation believed the outcome document was balanced.  For his country, trade was crucial, particularly the multilateralism nature of it.

The representative of Switzerland said that her delegation was pleased that elements related to gender equality were included in the outcome document.

The forum then adopted the text, without a vote.

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