World Trade WT/MIN(96)/ST/123
12 December 1996
Singapore, 9-13 December 1996
Slovenia appreciates the hospitality of Singapore and the sacrifice of its Government to enable this historic Conference to take place. My appreciation goes to the Director-General and the WTO Secretariat for the energy invested into substantial and complex preparations for this gathering of Ministers.
The set of Agreements and Decisions adopted at Marrakesh two years ago, to Slovenia and many other smaller economies, represent much more than a complement of codes of conduct to be followed and to be monitored by Members. They contain values to be sought and achieved in trade and international economic relations. These values have a particular significance for countries which are striving to become members of the WTO. Slovenia wants to play an active role in promoting these values.
The process of translation of these values into national laws and regulations of all the WTO Members is a long and complicated one and requires adjustments of both the society and the economy. The greatest impact of the Uruguay Round Agreements can be seen in the reforms taking place in the countries in transition and countries acceding to the WTO. They are being driven by the need to comply with the multilateral rules and principles and have historic proportions. The tasks of the WTO and its Members in implementation of the accepted commitments are enormous and complex. They are also a burden for small delegations and domestic administrations and their resources. Slovenia would like to see a greater blend of rules and pragmatism and economy in the various tasks and procedures in order to ensure smoother progress in all areas. The WTO also needs to develop a wider public perception of the tasks and the role of the WTO.
Institutionally, great strides have been made in the WTO and some very important work has been achieved which should be taken further, meeting new challenges, in a WTO as an open forum for all issues and concerns to be discussed, relating to the multilateral trading system, and as an opportunity to deal with these issues and concerns. Methods of work in the WTO, in some areas, are time-consuming and not always fully justified. In certain cases they need to be re-examined to allow for better progress.
Increasing membership in the WTO and the extensive list of incoming countries is testimony to its success. This underscores the importance of the Organization. The rapid pace of globalization is increasing pressure upon the WTO to produce additional results to avoid recourse to unilateral measures and pressure from Members. The WTO, in the course of development of its tasks and future role, will have to go beyond the immediate trade concerns and take charge of other matters and issues which effect trade. In Slovenia's view the particular areas of challenge to the multilateral trading system are investment and trade-related aspects of competition policies of Members. Therefore, dealing with "new" issues would provide the WTO with new vigour in the following period.
Questions concerning regional trade arrangements are vitally important for Slovenia as a small economy which depends on trade and foreign economic relations. Regional integration and expansion of trade on the basis of such integration is an economic prerogative for Slovenia. Furthermore, Slovenia believes that regional integrations can better achieve the goals of sustainable development. Monitoring of regional trade arrangements is necessary for reasons of transparency and non-discrimination.
The Government of Slovenia is strongly committed to effective implementation of the WTO Agreements as a first priority. Only this can be the basis for confidence-building in the WTO. Closely linked with further growth and expansion of trade is the simplification of time-consuming and unpredictable trade procedures. Trade and investment are also closely linked. Progressive and open discussions in these and other areas, such as trade and environment, labour issues, may benefit all.
In conclusion, Slovenia is committed to a strong and decisive role of the WTO, which this Conference will, no doubt, endorse.