World Trade    WT/MIN(96)/ST/43

    10 December 1996




Singapore, 9-13 December 1996


Statement by H.E. Mr. Jassem Abdullah Al-Mudhaf

Minister of Commerce and Industry

    It gives me great pleasure to extend to you, on behalf of the Government of the State of Kuwait and myself, my sincere congratulations on your election to the Chair of the First Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization. I also wish to offer my congratulations to the Officers on their election, wishing you every success in your endeavours.

    I am pleased to offer my congratulations to the WTO Secretariat for its strenuous efforts in the excellent preparation of this Conference. I also wish to convey to the Government of the friendly Republic of Singapore and its hospitable people the appreciation of the Government and people of the State of Kuwait for hosting this important Conference.

    We meet here at this Conference on the eve of a new year, an occasion celebrated by the entire world, and it is my pleasure to wish you on behalf of our delegation and myself a very happy and prosperous year, a year full of blessings and peace for all peoples of the world.

    The State of Kuwait acceded to the GATT Agreement in 1963, prompted by its firm belief in the important role of international organizations and world cooperation in the liberalization and globalization of trade, a belief held by the State of Kuwait since its independence in 1961. Our adherence to the principle of free trade was an embodiment of this belief, and an approach which realized for the people of Kuwait the greater part of their aspirations. It has also led, since independence, to the establishment of numerous economic institutions whose far-reaching activities transcend the frontiers of the country. Popular control is exercised by Majlis El Umma (Parliament), with representatives of all segments of society, freely elected by the people in accordance with the Constitution promulgated in 1961. A Constitution which guarantees and safeguards the freedoms that all peoples strive to enjoy. The Parliament is playing a significant role in maintaining this approach, of which the utmost benefit is the distribution of wealth and services to all citizens and residents of various nationalities in Kuwait in an equitable manner, and everyone was able to earn a decent living and lead a life of dignity.

    Events have proved Kuwait right in adopting this approach, as the world witnessed in the eighties and early nineties how countries were pursuing the principle of free economies as a substitute for economic theories that failed in the preceding fifty years to achieve the aspirations of these nations in leading a life of well-being and prosperity.

    The State of Kuwait had the honour of being signatory to the Uruguay Round and the Declaration Establishing the World Trade Organization in Marrakesh on 15 April 1994; it embarked, along with the rest of the world, on a new era where the importance of the market of products and services assumed more global dimensions. The State of Kuwait, a developing country, recognized from the very beginning the importance of enhancing cooperation in the field of trade with countries and peoples of the world, especially the developing countries. It concluded bilateral and regional agreements, issued laws and legislation, and established institutions to consecrate this approach.

    Our present meeting is convened only a few months after the Ninth United Nations Conference on Trade and Development held in the friendly Republic of South Africa, which called in its Final Statement for the enhancement of the role of WTO and the trade system based on supporting economic liberalization and strengthening the principle of partnership and cooperation between developing and developed countries.

    We have to take a closer look at our progress over the past two years, and to recall what was achieved at the Marrakesh Meeting so that we could work together to consolidate the gains realized, patiently address the weaknesses and shortcomings, consider the causes thereof and alleviate the consequences. We, as a developing country, hope to realize some advantages following the establishment of WTO, but we should understand that the liberalization of world markets has to be a major incentive for developing countries to revise their trade system and legislation with the aim of facilitating the development of their economic institutions so as to partake of world trade, and to upgrade their industrial output and products in order to compete with foreign products in their domestic markets. We pin hopes on support from developed countries for the endeavour of developing ones to enhance, by all available means, their capabilities, particularly their technological capabilities to achieve these goals.

    The State of Kuwait is an active member of the Cooperation Council of the Arab Gulf States, founded through the unanimity of Six Arab States of the Arab Gulf in 1980. The belief of the governments and people of these States in the system of free economy derives from our True Religion and our long heritage, which led to the consolidation of our long heritage, which led to the consolidation of our commercial links with the people of the ancient world, links that have continued into the present. The response of our States in joining the Organization was only natural, therefore, and in keeping with the aspirations of our people and with their past history; in addition to the State of Qatar, the State of United Arab Emirates has also joined the Organization. We hope that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman would also become Members of the WTO soon.

    Please allow me in the name of humanity to ask you that we work together in order to free our POWS who are being held in the Iraqi prisons without justification, and as the years pass by their suffering grows along with their sons and daughters who are waiting for their fathers, and wives who are waiting for their husbands.

    The Governor of Kuwait will never forget your governments' stands during the Iraqi occupation.

    I am calling upon you today as we are nearing the end of this year to put an end to our suffering so we can celebrate together the new year with the return of our POWS and detainees and all the stolen properties to their rightful owners.

    I wish you all every success, and peace be upon you!