World Trade    WT/MIN(96)/ST/111

    12 December 1996



    Original: English


Singapore, 9-13 December 1996


Statement by The Honourable Rear Admiral Jubrila Ayinla

Minister of Commerce and Tourism

    On behalf of the delegation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, let me begin by expressing our gratitude to the Government and people of Singapore for their warm reception, hospitality, and the excellent facilities provided for this Conference. We also seize this opportunity to express our thanks to Mr. Renato Ruggiero, Director-General, World Trade Organization for his very able leadership of the WTO, and for the excellent preparations that he and members of his staff have made for this Conference.

    This First Ministerial Review Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is of exceptional significance. We take the view that this Conference presents us with the unique opportunity to assess the implementation of the Organization's Agreements, to address the problems and issues that have arisen from implementation, to set the agenda for the foreseeable future, and to begin the difficult search for common ground in those areas and on those issues where consensus remains elusive.

    For Nigeria as a country, our purpose at this meeting is threefold. First, to clearly reaffirm our commitment to the multilateral trading system, to its rules and disciplines and to trade liberalization. Second, to emphasize our economic and trade priorities. Third, to restate the challenges that we face as a developing nation, and in doing so, to seek the concrete and technical support of the international community for the fuller and more beneficial integration of our economy into the global trading system.

    Our principal challenge as a developing nation is the challenge of development. We urgently need to create more wealth, and then to allocate that wealth efficiently, rationally, and equitably amongst our peoples. To achieve this, we have committed ourselves to trade liberalization for economic growth; and, have also been involved in the consistent application of sound macroeconomic policies which have begun to yield positive dividends. To this end, our expectation is that, although the WTO is a forum for the permanent negotiations of binding contractual trade relations, it should be more. Different from the GATT before it, it is a full-fledged international organization that represents not only a vital part of the structure of the international economic system, but also an indispensable mechanism for the coherent global management of the system. It should enter into a partnership with developing countries, and play an activist role in assisting them to achieve their full development potential. In this regard also, there should be increased market access in the product sectors of particular interest to developing countries.

    The Secretariat should scrupulously study the goods schedule of members to highlight instances of tariff escalation which should be eliminated in order to make possible the increase in export trade and growth of developing countries, particularly in the sectors of textiles, agriculture, and tropical products. Members are proposing further liberalization. Such proposals are indeed welcome. Nonetheless, in considering such proposals, there ought to be balance. Equal consideration should be accorded to further liberalization and increased market access, and to the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers, in areas of export interest to developing countries.

    Our vision of the WTO encompasses several elements. The WTO as an international organization in its conduct and operations should contribute not only to stable international economic relations, but also to the prosperity of countries, and thereby, also, to peace and security in the international system. There is therefore a need for the universality of its membership. In this connection, accession negotiations for countries undergoing this exercise should be accelerated.

    The formulation of rules should be on the basis of international cooperation and consensus. Members of the Organization should declare a binding commitment against the use of unilateralism and unilateral actions in economic and trade relations, particularly of the type that have extrajurisdictional consequences. Such actions potentially have a distorting and destabilizing effect on global trading relations. Nigeria calls on this First Ministerial Conference to draft and consider a declaration against the use of unilateral actions with extraterritorial effects, in the multilateral trading system.

    Furthermore, it is important to emphasize that WTO rules and review of some agreements which are foreseen should be undertaken on the basis of equity. The full membership of the Organization is committed to trade liberalization. At the same time, in pursuing this goal, and in order to strengthen itself, the Organization needs to encourage the equitable distribution of global income and prosperity through trade, technology, and capital flows.

    Globalization has had and continues to have such a profound effect on the trading system. Concern has been expressed that this business-driven integration of the global economy reduces the sovereign ability of governments to take decisions. The fear has also been expressed that marginalization may be a consequence of globalization. While these concerns must be borne in mind, Nigeria, however, welcomes the potential opportunities presented by the trend of globalization. It is our expectation that this trend will accelerate the global flow of science and technology, promote easier access to financial markets and capital, and promote the positive flow of foreign direct investment (FDI). Multi-country processing of goods is also a consequence of globalization. This is why the current negotiations on the harmonization of non-preferential rules of origin is important. In this connection, my delegation notes with satisfaction and welcomes the ongoing work in both the Committee on Rules of Origin, which Nigeria has the honour to serve as Chairman, and in the Technical Committee on Rules of Origin in Brussels. My delegation expresses the position that necessary steps shall be taken by the WTO to ensure that the harmonization negotiations adheres to the deadline.

    Nigeria's views on the so-called "new issues" are clear. We recognize the links between trade and investments. At the same time, we also recognize that the formulation of rules for trade and investment is a complicated exercise. It is therefore, worthwhile to undergo an educational process, including the exchange of information and analysis in order to fully grasp the complex interlinkages. This process can be fruitful by drawing on the synergies of both the WTO and the UNCTAD. The educational process in both organizations can be mutually reinforcing and complementary. Furthermore, this process should be unbiased and non-prejudicial. The proposal on transparency in government procurement practices would also benefit from a preliminary examination by a working party at the WTO.

    Nigeria welcomes the attention that has been accorded the subject of trade and environment by the WTO since 1995. Nigeria is strongly and equally committed to trade liberalization and environmental protection. We also recognize the need to integrate environmental concerns into trade and economic policy. However, in seeking higher levels of environmental protection, it needs to be underscored that for us in Africa, poverty is the most significant cause of environmental degradation. It is for this reason that we take the strong view that increased trade liberalization, particularly in product areas of critical importance for our countries, will yield environmental dividends. This is why we are also firmly resolved to oppose coercive measures and trade restrictions for the purpose of environmental protection, but rather to pursue environmental protection through positive measures. These would include, increased access to markets, increased capital flows, transfer of environmentally-friendly technology on mutually agreed and favourable terms, and with respect for intellectual property rights. We also cannot support unilateral extraterritorial measures by individual countries for addressing environmental problems.

    I should also add that Nigeria will continue the search for consensus on its proposal on domestically prohibited goods (DPGS) because in our view, and in the view of other co-sponsors, it represents an important contribution in the common search for comprehensive solutions to global environmental problems.

    In the past few years, regional trade agreements have increased in number, as well as in their scope, and coverage. We hope that these regional agreements will not become inward-looking protectionist blocs or promote inefficiencies. Rather, it is our expectation that they will be consistent with and complementary to WTO rules and disciplines, and promote trade liberalization, not only amongst their Members, but also globally. Nigeria seizes the opportunity offered by this historic Conference to express satisfaction with the work of the New Committee on Regional Trade Agreements. We restate our firm conviction on the primacy of the multilateral trading system over and above regional trading arrangements.

    The Dispute Settlement System of the WTO contained in the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) is the foundation of the new Multilateral Trading System. If affords all countries, great and small, protection and compensation from arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination. We express satisfaction at the operation of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) in its first two years. We express the hope that it will maintain impartiality and transparency in order to ensure its effectiveness and credibility in the years to come.

    Services represent an important and the fastest growing sector of the global economy. Nigeria deeply regrets the difficulty in the negotiations in the areas mandated at Marrakesh which include financial services, movement of natural persons, maritime services, and basic telecommunications. It is a cause for serious concern that difficulties have prolonged the negotiations beyond their original deadlines. We look forward to the early resumption of negotiations on services. In so doing, all Members must recommit themselves to the fundamental principles of most-favoured-nation (MFN) national treatment, and non-discrimination. As the WTO pursues significantly improved MFN-based commitments on market access and national treatment in the services negotiations, Nigeria also supports the work programme of the WTO constituted by the built-in agenda and the conclusions and recommendations contained in the reports of the various WTO bodies.

    In closing, we would like to reiterate that this is an important Conference that will clearly define the role of the WTO for years to come, including its mission, and its effectiveness in implementing the various agreements. However, the test of its success will depend on how well it contributes in meeting the challenge of development, and acting to alleviate poverty and marginalization. If the WTO through its operations increases trade liberalization, but at the same time more countries are marginalized and poverty increases, doubts and criticisms will arise, and questions will be raised. For the WTO to be deemed successful, the benefits of trade liberalization should be globally and equitable spread.

    I wish us all a fruitful and most rewarding Conference.