World Trade    WT/MIN(96)/ST/103

    12 December 1996



    Original: English


Singapore, 9-13 December 1996


Statement by H.E. Mr. Karol Cesnek

Minister of Economy

    First of all, I wish to thank the Government of Singapore for its excellent organization of this Conference and for its warm hospitality.

    It has been a remarkable achievement reached in Marrakesh and now we are here to make the first evaluation of Uruguay Round results which has led to establishment of WTO, an Organization of truly global importance.

    For Slovakia, as a small country extensively dependent on foreign trade, it had been a clear signal of the newly born sovereign State to firmly anchor a multilateral trading system into its fundamental trade policy objectives based on a liberal trade regime and high levels of market access commitments. We believe that these are the right means for efficient resource allocations and proper tools for progressive and effective integration of the Slovak Republic into the regional as well as the global economy.

    Our principal task here is to make a thorough review of the implementation of respective WTO Agreements, and analyse the positive impact of newly created rules as well as problems Members may be facing. Despite the complex and onerous transformation process, Slovakia is sparing no efforts to apply all WTO rules incorporated into domestic legislative architecture.

    We believe that the built-in agenda provides an excellent opportunity to address further a number of issues. We understand the concerns of some Members at the acceleration of negotiations envisaged for the next century and support those convinced that the time-frame agreed upon should be kept, to enable the full implementation of already adopted commitments. Slovakia is currently mandated to apply the original implementation period for all commitments, as a general rule.

    However, we would like to stress that this is inevitable to conclude negotiating elements of the still pending agenda, particularly negotiations in financial and basic telecommunication services, which would send a clear positive signal of our ability to find compromises even for the most complicated and controversial matters. The active role of Slovakia in these negotiations, where quality commitments are being offered, is further confirming our trust in the positive role of liberal multilateral system.

    Countries currently in the accession process could substantially contribute to the universal nature of this Organization by accepting the WTO rules and by providing meaningful market access commitments.

    We share the view of the supportive role of regional trade agreements, which are of essential importance of intensive integration efforts of smaller trading Members, including transition economies, and may be considered as building blocks contributing to new liberalization initiatives where the whole multilateral system can benefit. Since Slovakia is the presiding country of the CEFTA for this year, I wish, on behalf of its member countries, namely the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia, to express our common positive assessment of regional cooperation based on the Central European Free Trade Agreement. We are convinced that CEFTA has proved to be a good example of mutual complementarity between regional and multilateral trade liberalization.

    In spite of the fact that our priorities should be concentrated on a proper review of implementation as well as continuation and completion of unfinished negotiations, we consider a vision to the future as a significant element of WTO's ability to react promptly to the realities of global economic developments. In this context we share the view that some relevant issues are to be addressed with the aim to keep momentum of WTO, at least in discussing openly and examining broadly those issues which are fundamental for mobilizing tools to reach globally sustainable growth.

    There is undoubtedly a clear linkage between trade and investment, which are mutually supportive and are playing an ever-growing role in the ongoing integration of the world economy. A suitable, extensive and detailed analysis of the effects of investment on trade and economic growth, will be in favour of all Members.

    The globalization of trade is leading to growing concerns about barriers imposed by anti-competitive practices limiting trade liberalization achieved through multilateral negotiations. We share the open approach to pursue analytical work on multidimensional competition policy as well as trade facilitation.

    Slovakia recognizes fundamental human rights and is against their mistreatment. This issue requires deeper analysis of labour standards, taking into account macroeconomic relations prevailing in individual countries. Now, there is the responsibility of the International Labour Organization to continue in making extensive examination, where a specific working party is already established for that purpose.

    In conclusion, allow me to express our readiness to seek positive solutions to complex and controversial issues brought by growing universality of this Organization, where consensual support on sometimes different interests is to be found. It is, however, a matter of principle to address concerns in a truly balanced way with the sense for compromise, where each Member would find, at least partially, reflections of its priorities.