NAVINCHANDRA RAMGOOLAM, President of Mauritius, said multilateralism was the way forward in today’s uncertain world. He looked back over the past year –- the economic crisis, the loss of jobs and the food crisis -– and remarked that no country had been spared, including his own. He added that whatever modest progress Mauritius had achieved over the past few years had been severely set back, as its small, open economy had been exceptionally exposed to the adverse effects of the crises.
While there were reforms which had helped, he was concerned that a prolonged economic downturn could throw Mauritius’ export-oriented economy into reverse gear, with further declines in trade and capital flows, exchange-rate volatility, and further falls in tourist arrivals. Calling for strengthened regulations and supervisions that could prevent the accumulation of high-risk toxic assets that had led to the crisis, he emphasized that Mauritius had been a collateral victim of economic imbalances, overleveraged financial institutions, inadequate regulations and deficient supervision.
Ultimately, it had become clear to all that the Bretton Woods institutions needed fundamental reform to ensure long-term stability and sustainability of the global economy, he said. For too long, the international community had condoned a clear democratic deficit in global governance. “We need to reshape the global economy into a more equitable system, responsive to the needs of all countries and one that reflects the realities of the day,” he said, expressing appreciation for the convening this past June of the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development.
He strongly believed that what was also needed now was a change in approach in the developing economies. Indeed, while it was necessary to successfully wrap up the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, it was also necessary to consider launching a Marshall Plan for developing countries. That could happen by creating pro-business policy reforms and curtailing reliance on aid. “This is the way to create wealth and prosperity,” he said, and added: “We need to unleash the entrepreneurial drive of our people.”
Turning to national matters, he noted the fight against HIV/AIDS, saying it was a priority. The Government had also taken steps to deal with the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Food security continued to be a priority, and the recent decline in food prices “should not make us lose sight of the structural long-term deficit the world faces”. He added that the international community must bolster food security globally and that the upcoming World Food Summit in Rome would be an important step in that regard. He also urged action on climate change and said that divergences must be resolved at all cost and quickly, and he called for a breaking away from finger pointing, recrimination and brinkmanship.