World Trade WT/MIN(96)/ST/124
12 December 1996
Singapore, 9-13 December 1996
On behalf of the Government of the Union of Myanmar and on my own personal behalf, I would like to congratulate you on your election as the Chairman of the First WTO Ministerial Conference.
You have proven your wisdom and capability, in the past few days, how you have managed to overcome some of the difficulties and narrowed down the difference of views on several issues among the delegates.
The Mayanmar delegation deeply appreciates and thanks you very much for the hard work you have put in to achieve the objectives of the Conference. We strongly believe that sooner or later, consensus may be reached on the remaining issues, if all the WTO Member countries make a coordinated effort. You can be assured of the full cooperation of the delegation of Myanmar.
Allow me to express my deep appreciation and profound thanks to the Government and the people of Singapore for their warm welcome and cordial reception accorded to us since the time of arrival and also for the excellent arrangements made for this special event.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartiest thanks to the Director-General of WTO and Secretariat for their untiring efforts to convene this Ministerial Conference.
We come to participate in this Conference with three main objectives, namely:
- To assess the implementation status of our commitments to the WTO Agreements and Decisions;
- to participate in the ongoing negotiations and laying down future work programme;
- to examine developments in world trade.
In other words, we have come to this meeting with the aim of confirming our commitments made in the Agreements on the Uruguay Round for developing a multilateral trading system in international trade.
We firmly believe in trade liberalization and we want free and fair trade in the world. Myanmar has left behind the centrally-planned economy and adopted a market-oriented economy since 1988. We have eliminated and reduced the technical barriers to trade wherever possible. Local and foreign companies are encouraged to participate in the new economic structure and do business in Myanmar.
The impact of this liberalization programme resulted in a significant upturn of GDP average growth rate of 8.2 per cent in the past Four-Year Plan far above the planned target of 5.1 per cent. Moreover, export growth has rebounded by over 18 per cent, while foreign investment totalling more than US$5 billion has been realized.
These success indicators demonstrate that Myanmar's economic development may contribute to some extent further globalization and liberalization of international trade. Myanmar will also participate actively in the economic development of the Asian region.
Let me turn to the main issues of this Ministerial Conference. In the absence of the implementation of commitments made by Member States, especially developed country signatories, WTO will remain as a weak Organization.
The credibility and strength of WTO entirely depend on the successful implementation of the Uruguay Round Agreements. We still have some issues to be settled. As we all know, negotiation is a process of give and take. We are living in the world of different cultures, social and political situations, and industrial and economic development. Bearing that in mind, efforts should be made to get consensus on the remaining issues.
The delegation of Myanmar is very much concerned with the full and speedy implementation of the WTO Agreements in each and every sector.
We are fully aware of the fact that direct foreign investment plays an important role in the industrial and economic development of the developing countries. Inflow of finance and technology can contribute to increased production of manufactures, employment, export-oriented production of goods and services, increased export income and many other benefits. In our view, however, maximum output of direct foreign investment can be achieved with the regulatory supervision and cooperation of the host country. In the study and drafting of disciplines to develop a multilateral agreement for investment, due regard should be given to the national policy and investment laws of the Member States.
Any attempt to link labour standards with trade will have negative effects on promoting free trade. In other words a link between labour standards and trade will be detrimental to the effective functioning of WTO. In our view, the International Labour Organization (ILO) is the most appropriate forum to look into these issues.
As the founder-Member of the GATT and WTO, we attach great importance to the future work programme of WTO which may contribute to greater liberalization of the new world trading system and secure better opportunities for all countries.
In conclusion, I wish to mention our firm belief that the prosperity of the world can only be achieved by an open, free, fair and equitable multilateral trading system. Therefore, we need a better policy coordination to preserve, maintain and strengthen the WTO trading system which will allow free trade flow among nations. We should be realistic and it is our responsibility to develop and further strengthen the multilateral trading system in the family of nations. Myanmar, on her part, is going towards that direction and will continue to do so for the emergence of a new trading era.