World Trade    WT/MIN(96)/ST/110

    12 December 1996




Singapore, 9-13 December 1996


Statement by Mr. Ali Saleh Al-Saleh

Minister of Commerce

    It is an honour for me to be here in Singapore to address this important Meeting, and to extend the good wishes and appreciation of my Government, to the Government and people of Singapore for hosting this important Conference.

    Marrakesh marked an important juncture in creating a trade structure geared for global development and peace.

    But we must have the spirit to see this through, to go that extra mile to ensure that the next century is a success for humanity and the environment, providing a peaceful and prosperous future for successive generations, and in particular the full integration of least developed and developing countries into the global economy.

    We will not be successful if we hide behind the letter of the WTO law, if we continuously erect barriers in the belief that they are in the interests of our particular economies and if we continue in attempts to prevent competition. It is a time to be open, frank and honest with ourselves, and our trading partners.

    Bahrain is a small developing island State, striving to achieve developed status through the energy and determination of its people, and by practising what I have just been preaching, by openness and by working even harder than we have in the past to create the enabling environment for inward investment and organic business development.

    We are amending our laws to ensure transparency, and so that they meet market requirements and are in line with our WTO obligations.

    However, we are also realistic; we do need help. Help from those countries that own the technology we need to expand our manufacturing capability so as to become competitive in international markets.

    The developed countries should accept their responsibility to assist developing countries, like Bahrain, through the process of direct investment and the transfer of technology to enable our enterprises to be internationally competitive.

    Speaking for Bahrain, we do not want something for nothing, and we acknowledge that it is up to us to create an enabling environment conducive to the attraction of such investment.

    We all have the capability, and we all have the desire to be economically self-sustaining. It is simply that the means to achieve our goals, the technology, is not available to us.

    Prosperity for all, in the new century, depends on collective responsibility. This means that the least developed and developing countries must do everything within their means to integrate into the world economy.

    I believe that regionalization will help and not hinder the globalization of the world economy.

    The basis for cooperation through regionalization is trade. The WTO must ensure that the work done during the Uruguay Round and reflected in the Marrakesh Agreement is put to good use to strengthen the multilateral trading environment and the role of trade as the main instrument of world development.

    We have a great deal of work before us. However, I do think that all of us here today should work together to seek common ground. We should take into account the interests of all Member countries in order to reach a compromise in the new areas especially in labour measures, government procurement and the Multilateral Investment Agreement (MIA).

    I further believe that technical assistance, through the cooperation of other international and regional organizations, should be made available to developing countries to assist them in meeting the extensive WTO notification requirements.

    We welcome the requests for accession from countries that have applied for membership to the WTO, especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, the Heshimite Kingdom of Jordan and other countries. We look forward to their full membership. We also hope that the request of the GCC Secretariat to be given the status of observer in the WTO will be granted.

    This Conference is an articulation of the commonality of our individual aspirations to ensure that the maximum development potential is extracted from the post-Uruguay trading environment, for the benefit of all countries.

    However, it is difficult to conceive how progress towards sustainable global prosperity can be achieved, when there is still so much unfinished business on the peace front, such as the Middle East peace process, that will continue to affect our ability to achieve global prosperity unless solved.

    There is a significant peace dividend to be gained if we can settle these remaining issues and which, if properly directed, can help towards global prosperity.

    It is up to all of us here to make our best efforts so that this Conference will enable trade to make a difference.

    In concluding, I would like to extend my appreciation and gratitude to the Director-General of the WTO, as well as to all those who invested their time and efforts towards the success of this important Conference.