World Trade    WT/MIN(96)/ST/116

    12 December 1996



    Original: English


Singapore, 9-13 December 1996


Statement by H.E. Mr. Ali Abu Ragheb

Minister of Industry and Trade

(Speaking as an Observer)

    I would like to thank the Government and people of Singapore for their gracious and generous hospitality, and the excellent facilities they provided for convening this important Conference.

    It is indeed a great honour and a privilege for me to address such a distinguished gathering.

    The successful conclusion of the Uruguay Round negotiations three years ago was a historical moment, not only for the contracting parties, but also for the proponents of trade globalization and liberalization. The increased membership in the WTO, and the growing number of acceding countries, reflects the growing awareness among nations of the importance of integrating their economies into the international trading system.

    It was expected that liberalization of trade in goods and services would increase the volume of international trade and investment flows leading to better economic growth globally. The actual figures of increased international trade and investment flows as a result of implementing the Uruguay Round Agreements are true in a global sense. But the benefits are unevenly spread among developed and developing countries, and among developing countries themselves. To implement WTO obligations and commitments, countries need to have in place the appropriate institutional infrastructure, legal framework and legislation. Consequently, a great number of developing countries as well as least developed countries, are not in a position to take advantage of the opportunities that liberalization and globalization offer, despite the fact that they had the advantage of utilizing the concessional provisions of the Uruguay Round Agreements.

    As for acceding countries, prospects might be worse. Acceding countries are being asked to give more concessions than what is provided for in the Uruguay Round Agreements. If such practices continue, they will delay accession, and adversely affect the ability of developing countries to smoothly integrate their economies into the international trading system. Unless they are assured that such concessions are rights, and not issues subject to negotiations and hard bargaining, the positive impact of trade liberalization will be doubtful, and the objectives of the WTO will be forfeited.

    Jordan is going through macroeconomic reforms to achieve a balanced and sustainable economic development. Needless to say trade liberalization is at the heart of such reforms. Our people have had to bear the accompanying cost of such reforms, with the hope of better economic prospects made possible by regional and international cooperation.

    Jordan has been playing a pivotal role in the peace process in the Middle East to transform this region from a destructive course into a more constructive one. It is important to note that peace, political stability and regional security are the necessary conditions for sustainable economic development.

    We in Jordan believe that regional and interregional cooperation is a means of bringing nations together and cementing peace efforts. It is a powerful instrument in enhancing peace, stability and security in the region. At the same time, it helps countries of the region to open up their economies and deepen their interdependence. The expected outcome will be increased trade exchange and bigger investment flows that will facilitate the integration of their economies into the international trading system. Hopefully making the world a better place for everyone.

    In conclusion, let us work together as equals to achieve the overall objectives of the WTO through a rule-based, transparent, and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system.