Mr. Chairman, my
dear Dr. Supachai, Mr Secretary-General, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, friends:
Rubens Ricupero, can I
at the outset express my gratitude for your friendship, leadership and advice. I
congratulate you for running such a well-organized conference and our hosts, Thailand, for
their splendid organization and hospitality. I am very pleased to be here to bring you a
message of support and solidarity from a WTO which is back on track and in business. I can
report progress from Geneva. Members and colleagues have shown a great spirit of
co-operation and understanding since the start of the year. Our first General Council
meeting on February 7 and 8 produced important positive decisions because participants
showed a renewed determination to work together to make the rules-based trading system
work fairer and better for all its Members, large and small, rich and poor. It must do so,
and it can and will. History demands it because we know that the prosperity, peace and
progress of all peoples are based on a common need. We cooperate or perish.
live in a complex and paradoxical world. Depending on what you read or where you turn, you
can be elated or depressed by information. To take three examples from recent press
clippings: - Mozambique, at least until the present floods, was projected to be the
most rapidly growing economy in 2000 with 10% real GDP growth, and Africa overall to grow
by 4%, as against 2.7% in Asia/Pacific and 2% in eastern Europe. Yet overall, we read that
Bill Gates's wealth alone is estimated to be equal to the combined GDP of all the
least-developed countries. And Africa as a whole receives less capital per year than
Singapore. It is clear that the new division in the world the distinction
between inclusion and marginalization is between those who are inside and
those who are outside the modern, global economy. This is true both within and among
billion extra souls will share our crowded planet within the next 30 years. We will have
to double food production within 20 years. We face a world of insurmountable
opportunities. This tenth Conference of UNCTAD is a good time to discuss these
and trade policy must play their role as part of a wider development scenario. Trade on
its own is not enough. We have Members in Geneva who are paying up to nine times more on
debt than on health. We read that more people died of Aids last year in Africa than in all
the civil wars. But trade is development: the winners today and the lessons of history
show this to be true.
the WTO, development-related issues are at the forefront of our new work programme. The
negotiations in agriculture and services are of vital importance to the economic future of
countries at all levels of development.
would like to pay tribute to our representatives in Geneva who have started the
negotiations on the mandated Built-in Agenda. This is underway now. And when I say we
or our in this speech I mean WE the General Council, the
Chairpersons, my Deputies and the Secretariat we the team.
agriculture, improved market access and reduced competition from richer countries'
subsidies are crucial for most developing countries, both to develop their present
structure of trade and to diversify into products with potential for new development.
Increased production possibilities in agriculture are also one key to resolving the
problems of rural poverty which assail so many developing countries; and increased trade
possibilities here are one very important way to promote development. These new
opportunities, if seized to the full, will benefit the rural poor in the poorest countries
throughout the world.
Geneva we have also begun to discuss our mandated agenda on services. Services trade
development and diversification can bring considerable gains to developing countries. Many
have already benefited from this in areas such as tourism, financial services,
telecommunications and computer services - above all in some ASEAN countries. Most of our
Members recognize that further services liberalization is not a classic North-South issue
or divide, but one which must build on the remarkable progress already made in the
services sector by many developing countries, and embrace the vast opportunities offered
by this growing sector.
coherent and more stable policy conditions in services and the attendant
mobilization of private capital and expertise - are a precondition for efficiency
enhancing reforms in main infrastructural sectors such as telecommunications, finance,
insurance, and transport. Reforms in these areas are likely to produce economy-wide
benefits and, in particular, help to promote those industries in which the countries
concerned are genuinely competitive and can become better integrated into international
markets. Liberalization of services trade is an essential ingredient for any successful
economic development policy. This is why, for the first time in the history of the
multilateral trading system, several developing countries have come forward during the
past two years with unilateral bindings of liberalization commitments in financial
services and telecommunications under the GATS.
the mandated agenda, there are four priority areas on which the Members have agreed that
the General Council Chairman and I should carry out further consultations.
are working now on a package of measures to assist the least-developed countries. As we
all know, LDCs account for less than half of one per cent of world trade, and get less
than 1 per cent of foreign direct investment. Taken together, they are the most
marginalized group of countries in world trade. They need both free access to markets -
both developed and among their other developing partners - and, even more importantly,
assistance to build up their institutional and human capacity, and their infrastructure,
to produce and trade a diversified range of goods and services. This is a moral, as well
as an economic, imperative. I was disappointed that we could not stitch this up at
Seattle. The General Council has said to me to report positive results in Geneva before
thing I should say is that the best response to LDCs' problems should be an integrated
response by all donors and international agencies. We already have the Integrated
Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance, or in short the IF programme. Let's be
honest - at present it's more like the "IF only". If only we could get it
together. If the IF was not there we would have to invent it. This framework represents an
opportunity to do something really valuable for, and together with, least-developed
countries. Making it work better is a major priority of mine this year. There has to be
closer cooperation with UNCTAD and other organizations. Rubens, you and I must hold hands
and personally drive this, with the Bank and other agencies, otherwise it will continue to
priority is to improve and regularize the funding of the WTO's Technical Co-operation
activities. I was shocked to discover that the WTOs core budget for technical
assistance is only half a million dollars, although we receive additional funds from
generous donors. But we need a regular budget in able to plan two to three years ahead and
respond to the increasing demands for technical assistance programmes, not just
individual projects. We are undertaking a major review of technical cooperation in
its scope and quality this year and are fully accountable to Members for what we
issue that took most time before Seattle was implementation of the WTO Agreements.
Transition problems with some WTO Agreements are only the most immediate aspect of the
whole complex of implementation-related issues. None of us can be in any doubt about how
important these issues are, especially - but not only - to developing countries. The WTO
membership as a whole has shown a real willingness to work constructively together in
order to do so. We will do so.
has also been made clear that the wider implementation issues ought to be addressed in a
concrete and positive way. You are all familiar with what this term implementation means.
It includes a range of concerns from the difficulties some developing countries have had
in putting Uruguay Round commitments into effect to the argument that some of these
agreements or the way in which they are applied are inherently disadvantageous to
developing countries. In the pre-Seattle negotiations we spent more time on this than on
any other issues. This is an area as sensitive as it is important, and yet I firmly
believe we can arrive at a balanced and acceptable way of approaching it. We were close to
doing so in Seattle. We had on the table a set of detailed proposals combining immediate
action with the establishment of a mechanism to review implementation issues. I see a
collective willingness among WTO Members in Geneva to engage in a constructive, sensitive
way on this area.
Members, Ministers and the media have focused on the issue of the WTO internal procedures
for consultation and decision-making. This became a high-profile issue before and at
Seattle, where a number of developing countries, especially smaller ones, felt excluded or
marginalized. The culture is changing. Originally the GATT had less than 30 Members. Now
there are usually more than 30 in the so-called Green Room. There clearly is a problem to
be resolved here, although I should also mention that many Members have cautioned against
a simplistic or hasty approach. In particular, the consensus principle which is at the
heart of the WTO system - and which is a fundamental democratic guarantee is not
negotiable. The membership has agreed that consultations should be held in which all
would be able to express their views, and I have urged all Members who wish to do so to
submit suggestions. We will approach transparency in a most transparent way. We will do a
thorough job. We can lift our play. We will.
the few months since I became Director-General, I have made it a personal priority to
include all our members. My first visits as Director-General were to meetings of the G77
and the OAU, and I have put special emphasis on bringing our non-resident Members - those
who do not have the resources to maintain a permanent mission in Geneva - more fully into
the WTO's work. In October 1999 we held the first Geneva week for non-resident Members,
and this will be a regular event in future. Establishing a relationship with the ACP group
in Brussels, where many of our non-resident members are present, has also been an
important element in this strategy. I have visited the ACP headquarters twice in my five
months in the job.
one immediate result of increased participation has also been increased dissatisfaction.
As, for example, the small island states of the Caribbean are taking a more active part in
the WTO they have found things about our ways of doing business that they don't like. And
they have a point. No organization can remain unchanging and unresponsive to changing
demands if it wants to stay relevant. And we are changing. We have 31 applicants waiting
to come inside. Each has its special needs. Their Governments representing 1.5 billion
people want to be part of the future.
then, is our immediate programme of work. It is already underway in Geneva.
Representatives are working hard. We are travelling and seeking advice. There are also
many contacts going on among Ministers and officials in capitals to advance it and build
on it. Building confidence among WTO Members is a key immediate objective. We have already
made significant progress towards doing so.
we are serious about development in the WTO, we have to be serious about integrating trade
into our development thinking and our development policies. I say this because it is
right, and because over three quarters of the membership of the WTO are developing
countries wanting us to respond. The Copenhagen Declaration of 1995 made the commitment to
reduce the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by at least one half by 2015.
This can be done. It is not a dream, nor a slogan.
how do we ensure that trade works in favour of the poor? My first answer is to ensure that
we have a framework of rules that provides stability and predictability to the environment
within which trading relationships exist. These rules, as embodied in the WTO agreements,
have clearly proved their value over the last three years in the midst of economic
turmoil. They ensured that markets remained open, and that the economic difficulties of
some nations of this world were not amplified by an upswing in protectionism by their
trading partners. As many other speakers have noted, the economies of the five
East Asian countries worst hit by the crisis - South Korea, the Philippines,
Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, are projected to grow strongly in 2000. One of the
reasons is because their exports are estimated to have grown by nearly 9 percent in
1999. This is an enormous credit to the leadership of this region. However, the system
also held together, and the markets of the North stayed open despite enormous political
clearly, maintaining markets open is not enough. If developing countries are to grow their
way out of poverty, more work must be done in removing those barriers to their exports
that still exist. This makes sense not only for developing countries, but also from the
point of view of the richer countries. It makes no sense to extend billions on enhanced
debt relief, if at the same time, the ability of poorer countries to achieve debt
sustainability is impeded by a lack of access for their exports. Nor does it make sense to
devote billions of aid money to education and infrastructure if the products generated by
these investments cannot be marketed. And when poorer countries set off down the road of
structural adjustment, it is only reasonable that they be entitled to reap the fruit of
challenge for all of us in these first years of the 21st century is to use
trade, investment and the other tools available to us to promote economic growth, social
development, poverty alleviation and productive investment in a way that can make a
difference to the lives of the billions of people living in poverty throughout the world.
A lot of energy has been misapplied lately, in my opinion, to attacking globalization, a
term which covers just about everything. Globalization is not an option, not a theory, and
still less a conspiracy, but part of economic progress. The challenge of globalization is
not to accept or reject it - these are not available options. The challenge is to approach
it with realism to see that, like all change, it has positive and negative aspects, and
work to extend the positive aspects as widely as possible. Those who rail against
developing countries having globalization forced upon them are doing great mischief and a
great disservice to the cause of development. The real danger is the opposite - that the
benefits of globalization may pass by many developing countries unless they can be more
fully integrated into the global economy. The UNDP reports that the industrialized
countries represent 15% of the worlds population but 88% of Internet users. South
Asia with over 20% of all peoples has less than 1% of Internet users. Sub-Saharan Africa
with 0.7% of world population has 0.1% of Internet connections.
I am not simply here because of solidarity with UNCTAD though that is real; or
because I enjoy the company of my friend Rubens Ricupero as I do; or
because I am a friend of Dr Supachai as I am. I am here to re-focus and
reassert the relationship between our agencies. The relationship between UNCTAD and WTO is
central to the trade and development question it ought to be a model and
a basis for wider and more productive co-operation among all the other international
economic institutions for the benefit of the people we all exist to serve. We serve the
same Governments and the same taxpayers.
particular, I would like us to focus more productively on developing applied research
where the joint expertise of UNCTAD and the WTO possibly with other agencies
could be targeted together on issues of trade and development. I am impressed by
the work done by UNCTAD to assemble a group of papers by eminent development economists
for this Conference, and I was sorry not to have heard the fascinating debate on Saturday.
There are many potential fields for cooperation in services trade,
commodities, manufactures and many other areas.
co-operation and training is another important area of co-operation. I have already
mentioned the urgent need to make the Integrated Framework work effectively as a means of
trade-related assistance to least-developed countries.
at WTO also need closer cooperation with UNCTAD and other organizations on policy
development and advice, to ensure that we are all walking down the same road, with a real
positive agenda that can help developing countries and their peoples to become fully
integrated in the world economy.
false economic choices of the past are over. Our institutions were born out of a hot war
and matured in a cold war. But we have not yet any of us adapted fully to a new age
of integration. In the WTO we need to make some changes as well.
Berlin Wall fell more than ten years ago, but sometimes it seems that the walls between
institutions are more durable. Mr. Chairman, Rubens, I am committed to breaking those
walls down and I want to work with people and organizations I respect. Our taxpayers
demand that we should. The issues demand that we must. We need to recognize the real
problems of our member Governments and of those who are locked out. We have to set high
standards for ourselves and measure our performance because in the end we are all
accountable to sovereign governments who are accountable to their peoples.
have heard a good deal about a new international architecture. As a practical man - and
possibly the only head of an international organization to have worked as a builder's
labourer - I know that architecture can be very beautiful, but that underneath
it all, it needs solid foundations. This is our task and our challenge.
of the speakers said on Saturday that we can either be swamped by a rising tide, or set
sail on it. Thats right. No sane person could say with complacency "Im OK
but your end of the boat is sinking". In terms of human development, of human values,
of security and of peace, we are all in the same boat. We must set sail together. I pledge
myself, my organization and our team to working with UNCTAD and all our brothers and
sisters in the international community to ensure that this voyage of opportunity is not
just for the first-class passengers, but for everyone.