Statement by H.E. Mr. Daniel Kablan Duncan,
I am extremely honoured, at this major international
cooperation forum, to represent the President of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, His
Excellency Mr. Henri Konan Bedie, who is unable to attend but instructed me to transmit
the following message:
On behalf of the Ivorian people and on my own
behalf, I should like to add my voice to those of my counterparts present at this august
gathering in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, in order to bring to this historic ceremony
the message of Côte d'Ivoire on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the multilateral
trading system under the aegis of the GATT/WTO.
Permit me first of all to express my warm thanks to
the people and Government of the Swiss Confederation, the host country, for the
enthusiastic and dignified welcome extended to the Ivorian delegation.
I should like to include in these thanks yourselves
and all those who, in whatever way, are placing their knowledge and energies at the
service of the WTO for the establishment of a more transparent and fairer trade order.
Finally, allow me to express my special pleasure at
the distinguished presence of President Mandela, a great man of faith, conviction and
vision, whose international work does credit to the whole of Africa.
As a GATT contracting party since 1963, Côte
d'Ivoire, whose economy since the earliest days of independence has been resolutely
outward-looking, in accordance with its choice of a liberal economic policy, has
progressively abandoned non-tariff barriers to trade in favour of more transparent customs
Thus, today, Côte d'Ivoire has greatly liberalized
both its foreign and domestic trade.
It was therefore with total confidence that it took
part in the historic meeting in Marrakesh in April 1994, which saw the signing of the
Final Act of the longest round of negotiations in the history of the GATT.
Being aware of all the global economic challenges,
the Ivorian Parliament, the full and perfect expression of our democracy, committed our
country to join the WTO in January 1995 as one of the founder Members. To everbody's
satisfaction, the Round contributed to:
- Substantially reducing the
level of bound duties;
- broadening the range of
products to which this improvement applies;
- extending the GATT rules to
trade in services and trade-related intellectual property rights;
- strengthening the trade
dispute settlement body;
- maximizing trade flows,
with the increasingly active participation of a great number of countries in world trade:
132 Members and 30 observer governments, including in particular China and the Russian
- increasing investment and
its corollary, namely job creation;
- reducing domestic price
- contributing to the efforts
at regional integration as a prelude to participation by our countries in the multilateral
It is generally recognized that the 50 years of the
multilateral trading system under GATT/WTO auspices have been characterized by:
- The creation of new sources
of wealth generated by investment;
- an annual 10 per cent
increase in trade flows, from US$50 thousand million in 1947 to nearly US$6 billion today.
It is estimated that the Uruguay Round Agreements
could lead to an increase in global income of approximately US$500 thousand million by the
year 2005. This is the benefit which all the WTO Member countries hope to achieve if the
Agreements are fully implemented. However, there is a risk that this distribution of
resources may not be universally beneficial, judging by the performance of the developing
countries' economies. Indeed, as far as Africa is concerned, its share in the global
economy has declined steadily, from 5 per cent in 1985 to roughly 2 per cent in 1996, even
though the African countries have continued to export raw materials.
Nevertheless, some of the results of the Uruguay
Round still cause us concern due to the erosion of trade preferences under the Lomé
To cite an example, Côte d'Ivoire will see
substantial financial resources eroded solely in the pineapples and bananas sector,
thereby impoverishing small-scale planters, to whom we attach special importance, unless a
bold technical and financial assistance policy helps us to adapt our economy to recent
developments in the globalization of trade. This sector yields average annual earnings of
CFAF 150 thousand million. This is a large amount, a very large amount for an
economy which is only just experiencing economic growth once again after a lengthy crisis
lasting from 1980 to 1993.
In addition, there is the problem raised by the use
of vegetable fats other than cocoa butter in the manufacture of chocolate. It goes without
saying that a large sector of our economy would collapse with the following consequences:
- A reduction in demand for
cocoa beans amounting to almost 200,000 tonnes for the 31 ACP producers;
- a sharp drop in global
prices for cocoa;
- a threat to jobs in the
cocoa-processing industry, and even to the industrialization or modernization of sectors
of economic activity in many developing countries.
The immediate social impact of this situation at a
time when our countries are resolutely engaged in an unrelenting struggle against poverty
could be disastrous for the rural population, which will become increasingly vulnerable.
This is why it is important that the international
community should continue to give their support under the plan to reduce the debt of
highly-indebted poor countries so as to help us to integrate better into the multilateral
In this connection, we express our gratitude to
organizations such as UNCTAD and the International Trade Centre (ICC), which combine their
efforts with those of the WTO to help developing countries so that they are better
prepared to enter into the forthcoming negotiations in sectors such as:
- trade and environment;
- maritime transport;
- trade-related investment.
While we recognize the relevance of these issues, we
would like to see the successes achieved in the preceding negotiations consolidated before
exploring new areas. This is the only way in which countries such as ours can, with
equanimity, become integrated in the multilateral trading system's new order.
We place great hopes in the WTO's new joint
integrated programme with UNCTAD and the ICC on assistance to developing countries,
especially the least-developed countries, in the follow-up to the Uruguay Round
These are some of the elements to which the Ivorian
delegation wishes to draw your attention on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of our
In concluding, I should like to inform you that the
Ivorian Government has already set up a National Committee on follow-up to the WTO
Agreements, bringing together the private sector and the Government, to monitor
implementation of the WTO Agreements and ensure better participation in future
I am certain that the appropriate solutions that
will be found as a result of the valid issues raised at the Second Ministerial Conference
of the WTO will strengthen still further our faith in the globalization of the trading
system as a factor for progress and solidarity among nations on the eve of the third
millennium, after eight rounds of multilateral negotiations in 50 years.