COVID-19: Morocco Calls for International Help for Developing Countries


Rabat – Morocco’s Permanent Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Omar Zniber, called on Monday for strong support for developing countries, especially African states, in their fight against the socio-economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic presents increased and unforeseen challenges for all developing countries, and further exacerbates their structural weaknesses,” said Zniber during a meeting of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The second segment of the 67th session of UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Board began on September 7 and is set to extend over three days.

Morocco, as one of the 195 state members of UNCTAD, regularly takes part in debates on current challenges and how they affect global trade and development.

In his intervention today, Ambassador Zniber called for a coordinated and concerted response to meet the “urgent circumstances affecting global trade and development.”

The Moroccan diplomat pointed out that the debt levels of many developing countries are unsustainable.

Agenda 2030 could lag behind

The fall in prices and demand for basic commodities, the worsening of inequalities, the reduction in tax revenues, and the suspension of income from travel and tourism are all factors that are seriously affecting emerging nations, he stressed.

In late April, a report from Oxfam predicted that, with millions of people pushed into unemployment, COVID-19 could push the economy in Africa back 30 years. According to the report, lockdowns in African states could lead to a 20% drop in average income and push 548 million people, or 7% of the world’s population, below the poverty threshold.

The various factors Zniber mentioned compromise developing countries’ ability to withstand the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and invest in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The world will not be able to reach the agenda’s objectives—such as eradicating poverty and achieving gender equality—by 2030, Zniber warned, unless developed countries help less-developed ones. His statement evoked a key tenet of the agenda, partnership for the sustainable development goals.

International solidarity, joint efforts, and multilateral cooperation with developing countries is necessary today more than ever, the Moroccan diplomat stressed.

UNCTAD must be “a locomotive in the current complex context, in which multilateralism is renewing itself as an essential way to recover and overcome the effects … of this pandemic,” he said.

Agenda 2030 asserts that today’s problems require comprehensive, inclusive, and coordinated solutions.

“That is why there is an urgent need to put aside all political antagonisms and work collectively to bring about a global response to this global crisis,” Zniber concluded.

The ongoing UNCTAD meeting, set to end on September 9, will discuss several urgent issues, most notably the organization’s support for developing countries in Africa, one of the most affected continents by COVID-19 on the socio-economic level.