theme of this year's one day policy dialogue “The role of the
United Nations system in supporting the efforts of African countries
to achieve sustainable development” is timely and welcome.
Humanity faces no other more pressing issue at the beginning of this
new century than addressing the plight of Africa. Without an African
renaissance, we will not reach the UN Millennium Declaration targets
of halving global poverty, of halting and reversing the spread of
HIV/AIDS, of halving the proportion of people without access to safe
drinking water or of ensuring that all children have access to primary
education by 2015.
is required to make this African renaissance possible? After decades
of experimenting with sometimes disastrous models of development, we
have learned one thing: sustainable development cannot take root
unless countries and communities genuinely take ownership of their own
development. Initiatives recently taken by African leaders to
spearhead a “Millennium Plan” for the continent and to create an
African Union with a vision of a new era of unity through economic
cooperation are inspiring. And it is based on this sense of ownership
that a real partnership between Africa and the international community
must be built.
efforts of the UN and the Secretary-General to forge such a
partnership are commendable. And it is right too that we proceed with
humility. The international community and the family of international
organizations have all been guilty of incoherence and of conflicting
priorities, initiatives and advice in the name of development, in the
past. Great challenges remain for the United Nations system, the
Bretton Woods Institutions and indeed the World Trade Organization to
coordinate and cooperate better.
do justice to the efforts of African leaders and peoples, there must
be coherence between the efforts of the various parts of the
international system to support an Africa-owned and Africa-led era of
development. The contribution of the WTO lies in improving market
access and in ensuring predictability and the rule of law in trading
relations between States.
I became Director-General of the World Trade Organization, I pledged
that helping developing countries, and in particular the world's
poorest countries, would be a priority. I reaffirm that commitment
today. At the recent Third United Nations Conference on Least
Developed Countries in Brussels, I was proud to announce a set of
‘deliverables’ on market access and capacity building to help our
poorest countries better integrate into the multilateral trading
system. These are ‘deliverables’ and in most cases they are also
‘delivered’; done, not promised sometime in the future.
me highlight some areas in which I believe the multilateral trading
system can do more to support Africa-led and Africa-owned development.
countries need to grow their way out of poverty. Trade is a key engine
for growth but currently products of developing countries face many
obstacles in entering the markets of rich countries. For example, the
49 least developed countries, representing 10.5 per cent of the world
population, have less than 1 per cent of world exports. History
shows that open markets can play an important role in lifting millions
of people out of abject poverty. We have made progress on market
access for LDCs. Thirty countries have made offers. Two countries,
Norway and New Zealand, have actually agreed to drop all barriers to
LDC exports. They join a number of other countries who already provide
open markets. The average non-weighted tariff applied by major
industrial countries to LDCs exports has fallen from 10.6 percent in
1997 to 6.9 percent today. In the last 12 months, Canada, the United
States, the EU and Japan have all taken significant actions to address
access for LDCs.
new round of multilateral trade negotiations would lock in this
progress and advance the gift of opportunity which is all that market
access is. With every Minister and leader I meet, I argue the case for
market access. I will continue to do this and WTO members will
continue to look to make further improvements as best they can. The UN
system and the Bretton Woods Institutions have an important role to
play in mobilizing support for improved market access which can now
best be advanced within the framework of a new Round.
Secretary-General, I recall your call for a new Round, which must be a
true development round, at the Conference for Least Developed
Countries in Brussels. The case you presented there on behalf of the
United Nations family was compelling. Please allow me to refer to some
key points of your address as it related to LDCs, most of whom are in
reminded us that LDCs are caught in a vicious circle: they need
foreign investment but can offer little to attract such investment.
You reminded us too that in order to break out of the circle, LDCs
need to export and need open markets in which their goods can compete.
But those exports face formidable barriers. “Agricultural tariffs
still average over 40 per cent, and on some rise above 300 per cent.
And then there are many non-tariff barriers: not only quotas, but also
technical barriers which regulate the size and quality of imports or
require them to be labelled in a certain way. And of course there are
health and safety standards.”
of these regulations are a little difficult to understand. You gave an
example: the European regulation on aflatoxions. A World Bank study
has calculated that this regulation costs Africa $670 million dollars
a year in exports of cereals, dried fruit and nuts. What does it
achieve? It may possibly save the life of one citizen of the EU every
2 years. I agree with you, Mr Secretary-General, on the need for a
sense of proportion. Every human life is important but surely a
reasonable balance can be found.
contemplating a new Round, we should look at the figures. One study by
the Tinbergen Institute estimates that developing countries would gain
$155 billion a year from further trade liberalisation. That is over
three times the $43 billion they get annually in overseas aid. OECD
agricultural subsidies in dollar terms are two-thirds of Africa's
total GDP. Think of the gains to the global economy and Africa if
these subsidies were removed. Mr. Annan wants $10 billion to fight
Aids; that is just 12 days of subsidies in dollar terms.
are risks in not launching a Round. The world economy is looking
vulnerable. In 2001, the volume of world merchandise trade is expected
to grow by 7%, a marked reduction from the estimated 12% in 2000. The
US economy, motor for the world economy, is stuttering. A recession in
America could export trouble to the rest of the world. An upsurge in
protectionism could make things much worse. The virtuous circle of
trade liberalization and economic growth could all too easily become a
vicious spiral of protectionism and stagnation. The risk is that a
global recession will jeopardize any chances of economic recovery and
growth in Africa.
to launch a new Round this year could also jeopardize the multilateral
trading system itself. A global rules-based system based on
non-discrimination could give way to a patchwork of discriminatory
regional deals and even potentially hostile blocs, combined with
aggressive unilateralism by the big guys. Everyone would lose from
this. But the biggest losers would be the poor and the weak.
need not come to that. The precariousness of the world economy
provides an opportunity as well as a threat. The prospect of stagnant,
or even shrinking, domestic markets increases the lure of new, foreign
ones. This can help muster an export lobby powerful enough to overcome
the entrenched interests opposing freer trade.
liberalization is only one ingredient in the cocktail of policies
required for development. A new WTO Round will do little for a nation
that is torn apart by war or that spends all its export revenues on
weapons. Nor will it be much use if good governance is missing or
crippling debt overhangs. Nor will a Round help those poor countries
who have no domestic capacity or infrastructure to take advantage of
new market access opportunities. Trade liberalization must therefore
go hand-in-hand with other reforms.
of our contributions to improve coordination amongst agencies in
capacity building has been in re-designing the Integrated Framework
for Trade-Related Technical Assistance. A pilot scheme has already
been established under the Framework and we are starting to implement
it. We have set up a Trust Fund for the Integrated Framework and I
want to thank those countries that together have already contributed
US$6.2 million to the fund. I encourage all donor countries to
contribute. I also want personally to thank the Executive Heads of the
other agencies involved — IMF, ITC, UNCTAD, UNDP and World Bank —
for joining me to bring this concept from its hesitant origins to a
point where it could become a practical, project-driven example of
intra-international cooperation, putting into effect the calls for
coherence between agencies by Ministers and Leaders.
in hand with the Integrated Framework, we are promoting the concept of
mainstreaming trade into LDCs' development plans and poverty reduction
strategies. LDCs need increased, focused and sustained technical
assistance and capacity building to help them take advantage of
existing and potential market opportunities. This is best done by
mainstreaming trade into national development plans and strategies for
poverty reduction. It will help ensure trade, as an engine for growth,
is central to development plans. It will also ensure that
trade-related technical assistance and capacity building is delivered
within a coherent policy framework rather than on a stand-alone basis.
resources for development remains critical. The WTO is actively
supporting the International Conference for Financing for Development
to be held next year. Members of the WTO Committee for Trade and
Development have met with the Bureau of the Preparatory Committee of
Financing for Development. These exchanges have led to an input from
the Committee on Trade and Development to the Financing for
Development process. However, let me clarify that the WTO is not a
development finance agency and our resources for technical assistance
are very limited. Nevertheless, trade plays a role in generating
foreign exchange earnings and mobilising domestic resources through
economic growth. Also, WTO rules which improve transparency,
predictability and stability are critical for encouraging both
domestic and foreign private sector investment.
let me say a few words on our preparatory process for the 4th WTO
Ministerial Conference to take place in Doha, Qatar, in November.
WTO, once again, finds itself at a crossroads. Key decisions will be
taken in the weeks and months ahead – decisions that could have a
far-reaching impact on the future of the multilateral trading system.
At the Conference, we must leave the WTO stronger and more vibrant,
ready to play its full part in international trade relations. As I
said, I believe the best way to make this advance is through the
launch of a new Round or wider set of negotiations.
senior officials from capitals came to Geneva and through this
initiative the process has been further energized. We will have a “reality
check” at the end of this month when we will report clearly and
objectively to Ministers and representatives. The agenda has to be
broad enough to have something in it for everyone. It has to be
detailed enough to be meaningful, but not so detailed that it becomes
a pre-negotiation. I can report on one consensus that Ministers have
already reached. They want a balanced agenda for Doha. We are in the
hands of our owners, the Members. More leadership, more flexibility
and generosity must be shown soon, so that all are accommodated.
pursuit of an equitable, liberal and open rules-based multilateral
trading system is the key contribution by the WTO in support of the
efforts of African countries to achieve sustainable development. We
need your support now and in the forthcoming months to ensure the Doha
Ministerial is successful and that a new round with development at its
core is launched.