UNCTAD CONFERENCE POINTS TO POSSIBILITY OF A NEW ERA OF GLOBAL COOPERATION

UNCTAD CONFERENCE POINTS TO POSSIBILITY OF A NEW ERA OF GLOBAL COOPERATION

The end of the Cold War may open the way for a new era of cooperation between industrial and developing countries, but it will be very much on the terms of the wealthy nations, according to indications at a major U.N. conference.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), the first since the end of the Cold War, marked a key step in the search for a new relationship between industrial and developing countries.While world attention has been fixed on the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, many developing nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America still struggle to cope with heavy debt, stagnant growth and falling commodity prices.

At its final declaration, the conference that ended here Tuesday said member states agreed there was "an unprecedented opportunity to lay the foundations for policies of cooperation aimed at promoting economic and social progress in all countries . . . "

Delegates said the atmosphere at the conference was much better than at previous Unctad meetings, often marred by confrontation.

But if this meeting is a pointer, it will be the wealthy Western nations, with renewed confidence after the Cold War, which dominate the new relationship with developing countries.

Western nations obtained most of their objectives at the conference, gaining approval for far-reaching reforms they had sought for Unctad despite resistance from some developing nations.

The reforms to the 166-nation Unctad, which many Western countries said was an irrelevant talking shop, change the body primarily into a think-tank on development issues.

Industrial nations also succeeded in turning the emphasis of Unctad, which in the past often demanded action of the industrial world, to the need for good policies in developing countries.

The conference's final document urges tax and public sector reforms,

financial liberalization and the weeding out of corruption.

The conference also urged creditor governments to continue easing the debt burdens of developing states and to meet targets on development aid.

Developing country delegates differed over whether the end of the Cold War would help or hinder development in poor countries.

Conference Chairman Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, reflecting the majority viewpoint, said the end of the Cold War had given developing countries a chance to gain a much more favorable position.

"Before, they were pawns in the chess game being played on both sides according to the confrontation in the Cold War," he said.

But Jamaican delegate Lloyd Barnett said that, as a group, developing countries had been weakened by the end of the Cold War, although he recognized there were new opportunities.

Industrial nations tried to calm such fears, saying they would give high priority to development despite aid to Eastern Europe.

Some delegates suggested that one reason for foreign aid during the Cold War had been to stop Third World countries falling into the opposite ideological camp and that there was now less reason for aid programs.

But a recurring message of the conference was that the world is now so interdependent that a failure to help developing countries would rebound on the industrial world, either economically, ecologically or through large-scale migration.