WTO NEWS: SPEECHES — DG PASCAL LAMY

UNIDO LDC Ministerial Conference
Building Capacity to help Least Developed Countries Weather the Crisis


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Chairman,
Dear colleagues,

Let me thank Kandeh for convening the Conference to examine the impact of the crisis on least-developed countries (LDCs). This conference is very timely, coming just one day after the closure of the 7th WTO Ministerial Conference, and just before countries arrive in Copenhagen for a crucial summit on climate change.

Since we last met two years ago, our understanding and appreciation of the impact of the global financial and economic crisis on the LDCs has become clearer. We have not just heard but seen with our own eyes the damage this crisis has had on LDCs. We now have empirical data that confirms its negative impact on the gains LDCs had made towards achieving their development targets under the United Nations Millennium Development goals.

Unlike rich countries, LDCs have not been able to provide huge bailout packages to their ailing industries and expand social safety nets to those who lost their jobs. We have seen a few developed countries spending around $15 billion on their “cash for clunkers” programmes. And yet for LDCs this is out of reach.

Many of you were at the WTO 7th Ministerial Conference. The statements and interventions made by all ministers reconfirmed the importance of trade as an engine for growth. There was recognition that trade is the stimulus package available to developing countries and that it has to be part and parcel of the economic recovery effort for growth to be sustainable.
The crisis has demonstrated the importance of keeping trade open and fighting against protectionism. What we heard from our ministers in Geneva during the last few days is that the monitoring of trade policies that the WTO put in place at the outset of the crisis has served the members well and proved the resilience of the multilateral trading system. But as long as we continue to see unemployment rise, we need to remain vigilant.

Many of you also highlighted the need to strengthen the rules-based multilateral trading system. The single most valuable contribution in this respect is the conclusion of the Doha Development Round.

The conference also provided an opportunity to consider assistance being offered to LDCs in the accession stage and how we can best support their endeavour to become members of the WTO family.

Finally, we are also united on the need to keep momentum on Aid for Trade (A4T). We need to keep mainstreaming trade in countries' development strategies. We need additionality and predictability of resources. I took note of the calls made by many of you to urgently recapitalize Multilateral Development Banks and in particular the African Development Bank, as has been done with the Asian Development Bank. I will be conveying this message to their shareholders as a priority issue they need to look into to help mitigate the crisis in the coming months.

On Tuesday I also hosted an LDC Ministerial event to look at the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), which is the A4T vehicle specific to LDCs. All EIF partners, the LDCs, donors and agencies attended and I was impressed by the concrete and specific examples of how you are using EIF funding to change the realities on the ground. We heard about how Mali is using it to improve the quality of mangoes to access export markets. About how Zambia is using it to tackle infrastructure bottlenecks and reduce the costs of doing business. About how Yemen, an acceding LDC, is using the EIF to build capacity to implement future accession commitments.

Cambodia shared with us their own experience in setting domestic priorities and ensuring good coordination of EIF stakeholders at the national level. These are essential ingredients for ownership and efficiency.

More and more LDCs are now using the EIF and projects are being rolled out. It is therefore important that donors deliver on the pledges made in Stockholm in 2007 — and we heard many say they are or will do soon — in order to gain a better understanding of resources needed over the next five years.

As I have highlighted in the past, UNIDO is a key partner in the Aid for Trade initiative and the leadership it has shown in this regard is exemplary. The reality is that UNIDO has the capacity and has shown the commitment to help LDCs enhance their productive capacity and thereby limit the negative impact of the crisis.

An enhanced capacity to produce is central to ensure that real benefits will result from the successful conclusion of the Doha Round.

I am also happy to see Cheick Sidi Diarra here this morning because as you have just heard from him, the international community will be joining the LDCs in 2011 in Turkey to take stock of what has been done in the last decade to improve the situation of LDCs. For the WTO, I can pledge to him and to all of you our full commitment to make sure that the 4th UN Conference for LDCs does not become just another international speechmaking event but that it results in concrete and measurable commitments towards the LDC development.

A key contribution that the WTO can make to that conference is to deliver on the Doha Round. The coming months will be crucial for closing remaining gaps and starting to walk the last mile to a deal. It is through the conclusion of the Doha Round that members will have an opportunity to deliver on a number of commitments they made at the UN LDC Conference in Brussels in 2001 which I remember having attended in a previous life. We have seen progress on this front. Just three days ago Brazil announced that in four years it will be granting LDCs 100 per cent duty-free and quota-free treatment. This is a positive signal in the direction of the poorest.

I look forward to continuing to work with my colleague Kandeh, UNIDO and with all its members to ensure the benefits of a more open trading system translate into reality for developing countries.

Thank you.

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