World Trade    WT/MIN(96)/ST/37

    10 December 1996



    Original: English


Singapore, 9-13 December 1996


Statement by H.E. Mr. Szaboles Fazakas

Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism

    First of all, I would like to express the gratitude of the Hungarian delegation to the Government of Singapore for its warm hospitality and the excellent working conditions. The fact that the first Ministerial Conference of the WTO takes place in your country, Mr. Chairman, is a recognition of the outstanding role Singapore has always played in this Organization.

    We highly appreciate the persistent efforts of Mr. Ruggiero made in the preparatory phase. I am convinced that despite some still unresolved issues we will succeed in our present undertaking and be able to send a strong message to the international business community: the implementation of the ambitious results of the Uruguay Round is on the right track, and it is our resolve to continue this process with renewed energy.

    Looking back to the work of the last two years, as it is reflected in the reports of the various councils and committees, it seems to us that significant progress has been made in almost all fields of implementation. For some time this progress has not been obvious, as groundwork is never spectacular. However, now overviewing all the results we can state with a certain satisfaction that they are encouraging.

    Undoubtedly, there are some difficulties but their emergence is almost unavoidable in such an ambitious enterprise. In certain areas, like trade and environment, SPS and TBT we expected greater progress. The extensive notification obligations put a heavy burden on all of us, thus certain simplification seems to be necessary. We regret that negotiations on financial and on basic telecommunication services could not be completed within their original time-frame on an MFN basis. We hope that these negotiations will reach a successful conclusion in 1997.

    Hungary considers it important that the preparation for the negotiations and reviews, as envisaged by the built-in agenda of the Marrakesh Agreements, shall begin according to the agreed timing and conditions in order to ensure their successful completion. Given the export structure of Hungary we are looking forward with special interest to the preparation for the second stage of the agricultural reform.

    My Government is fully committed to the adherence of the core labour standards. We are of the firm conviction that this is an extremely important political and human rights issue. Hungary is thus prepared to provide all support to the International Labour Organization to effectively tackle this problem area.

    The marginalization of the least developed countries is a serious concern for Hungary, as well. For many years we have been granting duty-free treatment to all imports from these countries. We hope that our example will be followed by many others in line with the respective recommendation.

    As to the phenomenon of regionalization we are convinced that regional and multilateral trade liberalization are complementary and mutually supportive processes. Bearing this in mind we endeavour to become very soon a full member of the EU and rejoin the European family of nations.

    We welcome that some of our important trading partners are also on the way to accede to the WTO. My Government hopes that inasmuch as these countries are ready to meet the requirements of the WTO membership their accession will be a rapid and smooth process.

    The consolidation of the major achievements of the Uruguay Round should be the main task of the WTO in the coming years. However, in order to remain relevant, the WTO should respond to the new challenges of the globalizing world economy.

    In our view the most important new issue is investment. In Hungary's economic transformation FDI has played a crucial role. Therefore, we support the start of analytical work, as a first step toward multilateral rule-making in the WTO.

    We are also interested in a balanced examination of the interrelationship between trade and competition in our Organization. Hungary is equally ready to examine how WTO could contribute to various international initiatives on trade facilitation.

    Hungary has made major progress in its economic transition since Marrakesh. Having established the legal and institutional framework of a market economy we focused our efforts on the stabilization of the external and budgetary balances. Our considerably improved performance is confirmed by the spectacularly growing interest of foreign investors towards Hungary. The privatization process has also been accelerated. As a result, the share of the private sector in the GDP will reach 80 per cent next year. We hope that the comprehensive reform of the social security system will provide a considerable amount of new resources for investments and for a more dynamic growth.

    Courage from the Government and serious sacrifices from the society are both required to go ahead with such an ambitious agenda. To secure the necessary public support for continuous economic adjustment, a supportive, stable and predictable external environment is also vital. A well-functioning, rule-based WTO system constitutes a fundamental element of this environment. With all this in mind I would like to assure you, Mr. Chairman, that the Hungarian delegation will do its utmost to contribute to the success of our common endeavour.