> Pascal Lamy’s speeches


Distinguished members of the government,
Esteemed guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am happy to be with you here today for the official inauguration of the WTO Chair awarded to Cheikh Anta Diop University, and with the G 20 Summit and the meeting of African trade ministers only a few days away, to share a few thoughts with you on world economic governance in a period of major economic turbulence and on the latest developments in the ongoing Doha Round negotiations.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The WTO Chairs Programme was conceived in 2008 and launched at the beginning of 2009 at a time when the world economy was faced with a major and unprecedented crisis.

This global crisis, triggered in the autumn of 2008, had major repercussions on the African continent. It stifled the surge in growth that had begun to generate development and stability since the mid 1990s. Africa was one of the most serious victims of this global crisis, and growth fell sharply. With the slowdown in world growth, the fall in most commodity prices and the credit crunch, the economic outlook for sub Saharan Africa deteriorated.

And yet, in spite of all this turbulence, Africa is back on the path to growth and development. In fact, growth could reach an estimated 4.7 per cent in 2010 and approximately 6 per cent in 2011.

This recovery can be explained by several factors. First of all, there are the counter cyclical and economic stimulus policies introduced by many African countries to counter the impact of the global crisis. And there are other factors, such as the limited integration of the banks in financial globalization, which provided them with an immunity against the turbulence caused by the international financial crisis. And there is also the recovery of international trade which, after plummeting by 12 per cent in 2009, is expected to grow by 13.5 per cent in 2010, which will inevitably lead to stronger demand for African exports.

Is this recovery sufficient, and what should we do to get Africa and the developing world back on track towards strong growth and development? For that to happen, I think that the African continent is faced with three major challenges.

The first is a national one, and involves speeding up the diversification and structural transformation of the economies to overcome their dependence on cash crops and to anchor African economic growth in dynamic and higher value added sectors.

The second challenge is a regional one. It involves strengthening regional cooperation, which holds out significant prospects for growth on the continent. At that level, the revival of programmes for investment in regional infrastructure would undoubtedly be a major asset. The Aid For Trade initiative launched by the WTO would be an important catalyst in this respect, and regional institutions such as the African Development Bank, the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the Economic Commission of West African States, would play an important role. I shall continue to support measures aimed at improving the competitiveness of countries that are handicapped by their weak trading capacity.

The last challenge is linked to the issue of access to international markets that could help to support the diversification of African economies. The WTO's Doha Development Round is one of the keys. The international financial crisis reminded us of the need to help the poorest countries and the landlocked countries to strengthen their ties with international and regional markets. As a corollary to this help, we must define the operational modalities for ensuring that trade is used to greater advantage and that it serves the interests of the developing countries. As we heard in New York a month ago, stronger trade is unquestionably one of the ways of stimulating Africa's development with a view to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

This round of negotiations was launched in Doha in 2001, and it placed the interests of the developing world and of Africa at the heart of its concerns which is why the African countries have been firmly engaged in these negotiations, and have made themselves felt. Africa's objective is to reduce the remaining barriers to international trade in the different areas of negotiation such as agricultural and non agricultural market access, services, and trade facilitation. Next Monday, in Kigali, I shall have the opportunity to discuss the latest developments in the Round with the ministers of trade of the African Union, and to recall the importance for Africa of concluding the Round.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The crisis has helped to highlight the utility of the multilateral trading system as a world insurance against protectionist pressures. It is because international trade has remained open that it has been able to act as an antidote to the crisis and a stimulus to economic recovery.

The WTO played its monitoring role in ensuring that the current crisis, which stirred up a certain amount of national egoism and all that goes with it, did not become an excuse for introducing protectionist trade practices which, if they were to spread, would have a devastating impact on the world economy.

Today, the global economy is faced with a new risk linked to certain currency tensions. Uncooperative behaviour could weaken the trade driven recovery. A stable financial system and a stable trading system are public goods in other words their use is non rival and non exclusive. With the G 20 Summit in Seoul looming, I thought I should mention this worry, because we must not allow our collective efforts to be undermined by tensions.

The current crisis and the recent monetary turmoil have shown us that today, we need to strengthen cooperation and coordination and to make them an essential component of the new global governance.

The opening up of trade, supported by appropriate domestic policies and a favourable external environment, can make a crucial contribution to sustainable economic development. Senegal is a good example of a country that has made trade work for development. It has pursued its open trade policy through consistent promotion of an environment conducive to trade and investment, and firm support for the Doha Round of negotiations. It is also widely recognized in academic circles that if trade is to fuel growth and poverty reduction, it needs to be incorporated and strengthened in development and domestic policy objectives. We are working to that end at the WTO, and that is one of our contributions towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Let me now revert in greater detail to what has brought us together here today, namely the importance of technical assistance and training activities in the development of the multilateral trading system, which has led the WTO to step up its work in those areas.

It is in that context that we have placed particular emphasis on cooperation with the universities with a view to building up expertise in certain academic institutions in the developing and least developed countries.

In the same spirit, the WTO Secretariat launched, in 2009, a scientific essay award which aims to promote high quality research on the WTO and WTO related issues among young economists. I take this opportunity to encourage the many students among you to participate in this programme and submit the fruit of your research, both theoretical and empirical.

In view of these considerations and of the academic community's leading role in helping to build up trade capacity, in January 2009 the WTO Secretariat launched the WTO Chairs Programme, which seeks to enhance knowledge and understanding of the trading system among academics, citizens and decision makers in the developing countries; to stimulate teaching, research and public debate on international trade; and to encourage mutual cooperation between academic institutions and research institutions.

In Africa, five universities were selected: Mohammed V University in Morocco, the University of Nairobi in Kenya, the University of Mauritius, the University of Namibia, and finally, Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, a crossroads of knowledge in West Africa.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here among you today to inaugurate the WTO Chair at Cheikh Anta Diop University.

Upon my arrival here in Dakar, I saw that the UCAD's motto was “Lux mea Lex” (Light is my Law). May this light that emanates from the UCAD continue to shine, and like a ship caught in a storm in the middle of the ocean and looking for a lighthouse, I hope that the UCAD will remain that beacon of knowledge, both in Senegal and in Africa.

Finally, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the Rector of the University, Professor Saliou Ndiaye, and the Chair holder, Professor Aly Mbaye, and to thank them for the support they have given this programme.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

You may rely on the WTO's full support in carrying out the ambitious objectives of this Chair. I wish every success to the WTO Chair of Senegal, hosted by this prestigious University, and I thank you for your kind attention.

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