World Trade WT/MIN(96)/ST/118
12 December 1996
Singapore, 9-13 December 1996
First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the host of the First WTO Ministerial Conference, the Government of Singapore, for the wonderful organization of this Conference.
I would also like to thank WTO Director-General, Mr. Renato Ruggiero, and the WTO Secretariat for an exclusively important contribution they have made into the preparation of the Conference. This will undoubtedly facilitate the success and efficiency of this event.
It is a great honour for me to speak at such an outstanding forum, the historical importance of which is without any doubt, because it is going to be the first time since the establishment of the WTO that a comprehensive and all-embracing high-level analysis of developments in world trade will be made, and when the fulfilment of multilateral commitments within the framework of the world trade system will be assessed.
On the threshold of the 21st century we became witnesses to fundamental historical transformations both in the political situation, and in the sphere of world economy and trade. For the last few years, general trends in the development of this sphere were characterized by dramatic changes in the world economic system, particularly with globalization and liberalization of the world trade system.
The completion of the Uruguay Round and the establishment of the WTO opened new opportunities for the development of both international cooperation, and each country individually. It as well became the incentive for fruitful partnership in the name of stability, global development and further liberalization of world trade.
Despite that my country is going through a complicated stage of economic development at present, Ukraine is striving for an organic accession to the world trade system, is applying tremendous efforts to implement the programme of consistent economic reforms, coordinated with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and aimed at considerable liberalization of foreign trade treatment in order to harmonize it with GATT/WTO requirements.
Recently, important events have happened in Ukraine's political and economic life, and they reconfirmed the stability of democratization and market transformation policy. The Verkhovna Rada has adopted a new Constitution, and the Governmental Programme for 1997 has been approved. The new Programme, as with the previous ones, determines that Ukraine's accession to the World Trade Organization is a priority component of the process of economic transformations.
At the present stage of market transformations, Ukraine's membership in the GATT/WTO system, which is the most comprehensive reform of the world trade system ever implemented, is of an utmost importance for ensuring the stability and effectiveness of foreign trade. It will positively influence the process of Ukraine's joining the world economic environment, and help get rid of the "trade outsider" status in relations with the most developed countries of the world.
For this purpose, the Government of Ukraine has approved a 1996-1997 Plan of Actions, which foresees top priority measures to ensure Ukraine's accession to GATT and joining WTO, and on the basis of this Plan, ministries and agencies worked jointly, in particular, to finally bring the national foreign economic law into accordance with GATT/WTO requirements.
I would also like to inform you that three meetings of the Working Party have already been held within the framework of Ukraine's accession to the GATT/WTO system.
The parties have already discussed the major aspects of Ukraine's foreign trade treatment. During the last meeting held in June 1996, the Concept of Transformation of Customs Tariffs of Ukraine has been accepted, and it will be the basis for further bilateral and multilateral negotiations on tariff concessions. Proceeding from the results of this meeting, and in compliance with Article XII of the WTO Agreement, in the nearest future the Ukrainian Government will concentrate on bilateral negotiations on guaranteed reciprocal access to markets of goods and services.
Thus, Ukraine has entered the final phase of the accession process, and we hope that it will be successfully completed.
Realizing the necessity of comprehensive integration of developing countries and countries with transitional economies into the multilateral world system of rights and commitments, Ukraine is applying efforts in order to overcome difficulties naturally arising in the process of harmonizing its domestic law with relevant requirements of WTO Agreements, and undertaking commitments with respect to market access. And here we expect our trade partners to understand our desire to fill the notion of an "economy in transition" with concrete juridical and economic meaning.
I hope that finally the success of countries with transitional economies will significantly contribute to the settling of a stable and safe climate in international relations.
It is doubtless that the above will greatly depend upon the results of this Conference, further development of the WTO, implementation of decisions taken during the Uruguay Round, creation of guarantees of the well-being of our countries, promotion of investments and general liberalization of foreign trade.