World Trade    WT/MIN(96)/ST/115

    12 December 1996



    Original: English


Singapore, 9-13 December 1996


Statement by H.E. Mr. Oldermiro J.M. Baloi

Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism

    First, allow me to congratulate H.E. Yeo Cheow Tong, Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore, for his appointment as Chairman of this first Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization. On behalf of the Government of Mozambique and indeed on my own behalf, I would like to express our sincere appreciation for the convening of this Conference. My gratitude is also and specially extended to the Government and the people of Singapore for the warm and friendly reception accorded to us since our arrival and for the excellent conditions provided for our work.

    In 1987 Mozambique initiated a Structural Adjustment Programme with the objective of revitalizing its economy and improving the living standards of its people. A significant part of this initiative has been to create a favourable environment for investment and development of the private sector. These reforms include among others, monetary and fiscal policies, exchange rate policy, privatization, financial sector and trade liberalization measures. Indeed, an attractive environment for private investment, both domestic and foreign, has been created which will lead the country to a sustainable economic and social development. Some positive and tangible results can be seen and, the downwards revision of the tariff system is one of the examples. We are confident that with these measures direct investment will boost our weak economy and foster development.

    As you are aware, Mozambique is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional organization aimed at enhancing regional integration and mutually develop the potential of the Southern African member countries. This type of enhanced cooperation between developing countries as a transitional phase to multilateral contracts has been agreed upon in the text of the Agreement that established the WTO. Indeed, Mozambique strongly feels that regional integration is an important precursor to a functional multilateral system.

    In this regard, Mozambique is confident that the signature of the SADC Protocol on Trade, by its member States, will translate aspirations into deeds and transform commitments and resolutions towards regional economic integration.

    The globalization and liberalization of the world economy is important and has stimulated significant changes in our domestic economies and how to relate to one another. The process of interdependence and integration of national economies has underscored the need for a comprehensive regulatory environment which will ensure an equitable and sustainable path for growth and development for all nations.

    Equitable growth for all through, among others, the establishment of level playing fields will be essential for the success of the WTO. LDCs continue to be economically weak and are faced with the danger of further marginalization. Positive steps need to be actioned to alleviate the challenges faced by the LDCs. More importantly, only with support they will be able to adopt the pace required to implement the Marrakesh and the WTO resolutions for the creation of a comprehensive and equitable world trade system. In this regard, I would like to acknowledge and congratulate the joint initiative of the ITC/UNCTAD/WTO, as well as other international organizations and agencies that are assisting us in preparing for the future.

    This is more so, when we realize that the issues included in the built-in agenda are a challenge for our countries, since we are facing problems with regard to limitations of freedom of choice in the multilateral trade system, due to our narrow export base and low export capacity, the overwhelming debt burden and the market access for competitive products.

    Obviously we endorse the SADC's statement but we would like to add a few comments about the new issues.

    It is our understanding that trade liberalization aims at bringing equitable growth and that one of the basic conditions is the existence of a level playing field. This, as a matter of principle is correct, but, its implementation must be pragmatic in the sense that it must take into consideration the differences between the developed countries, on the one hand, and the developing and least developed countries, on the other, otherwise, the gap between the former and the latter will continue to grow or even to accelerate.

    In other words, for the sake of a real partnership, paving the way towards equitable growth requires gradualism. The LDCs are already overwhelmed by the implementation of what has been agreed in Marrakesh and the developed countries are rushing into introducing new issues. In our view, this is not fair and we hope that there is not going to be any misinterpretation on these words. What we really mean is that the appropriate pace is the one that takes into account the weaknesses and the strongholds of all actors. Therefore, we cannot agree at all with the inclusion of the new issues.

    We are glad that during these two years, the WTO's performance has justified its creation but we fully oppose any attempt of expanding its scope at other existing organizations expenses.

    In fact, we wonder what is, if any, the far-reaching objective of putting the WTO, even disguisedly, addressing investment and labour standards, to mention only some of the issues, that are dealt with by UNCTAD and ILO, respectively. Although it is true that these and other issues are interrelated with trade, why do not we leave them to all concerned organizations which would address them in a consistent manner through coordination.

    Hoping that by the end of this Ministerial Conference we will reach a positive outcome.