World Trade    WT/MIN(96)/ST/65

    11 December 1996



    Original: Spanish


Singapore, 9-13 December 1996


Statement by H.E. Mr. José Rossi

Minister of Foreign Trade

    From the outset, Mr. Chairman, I should like to convey the sincere gratitude of the Government of Costa Rica to you and to the Government of Singapore for the splendid organization and the hospitality with which we have been received. I should also like to express our deep appreciation to Mr. Renato Ruggiero, Director-General of the World Trade Organization, for ably and efficiently leading the Organization during these first two difficult years, and also to the Secretariat for its valuable contribution to that work.

    Two years have gone by since our Governments put their signatures to the Marrakesh Agreements. Today, we are meeting here in accordance with one of those mandates. I trust that this will help to strengthen the Organization, first by a proper examination of the implementation of the WTO Agreements and Decisions and a review of the negotiations and the work programme, and secondly, by a review of the role to be played by the Organization in the future.

    These have been two years of major efforts to fulfil commitments. We realized that it would be that way before we assumed the commitments, but we also knew that the global process of liberalization would make a positive contribution to economic growth and development.

    The overall result of the implementation of the Agreements is positive. The reports by the various WTO bodies reflect this in most instances. I should like in particular to highlight the value of the clearer and firmer legal framework and the functioning of a dispute settlement system with strengthened rules - and hence credibility. It is a more streamlined system in which the automaticity of the results has imparted greater security to trade relations.

    However, although implementation has been satisfactory for most of the Agreements, I must express the concern of the Government of Costa Rica at the impediments it has experienced in the implementation of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC). This Agreement was undoubtedly an essential part in the delicate balance of results obtained in Marrakesh, for it brought WTO disciplines and principles to a sector hitherto deprived of them, a sector of enormous interest to many countries, particularly developing countries. However, the expectations of a textile and clothing trade that would abide by the provisions of the multilateral trading system have been turned into concern about failure to comply with those rules. From the institutional standpoint, it has been extremely serious to find that the body responsible for overseeing implementation of the Textiles Agreement has failed to fulfil its mandate on some occasions, as that body itself has recognized, and this has altered the balance of Members' rights and duties in regard to the Agreement. These serious instances of non-fulfilment must not be repeated in future, because apart from the harm caused to Members, they would undermine that body's credibility still more. Again, compliance by Members is also a matter of grave concern. Particularly serious is the abusive and immoderate use that one Member has made of special safeguards and, as has been demonstrated in at least one case, in violation of the provisions of the ATC.

    Proper implementation of this Agreement is absolutely essential. In this regard, the Council on Trade in Goods must oversee its implementation regularly and carefully, to ensure that implementation abides by the provisions of the Agreement, including those relating to the functioning of the Textiles Monitoring Body.

    The Government of Costa Rica attaches great importance to the Work Programme and to the Built-in Agenda and will make every effort to ensure that they are carried out in accordance with the Marrakesh commitments. What is more, we believe that there are areas in which the liberalization process could go beyond those commitments, for Members able to agree to it. Accordingly, the Government of Costa Rica has supported the initiative for a most-favoured-nation tariff elimination for trade in products in the information technology sector. We trust that open negotiations on the various aspects, including coverage and periods of implementation of commitments, will enable a large number of Members to form part of this important plurilateral agreement.

    We believe that the WTO's work can go still further. For this reason, we have backed the introduction of some issues which have not yet found their place in the Organization. The Government of Costa Rica has co-sponsored a proposal to initiate work on investment and trade, since we believe it necessary for this issue to be broadly considered in the WTO. We have also supported the establishment of a working party, along with a programme of activities, in accordance with the draft decision distributed. We trust that the work to be started by the working party will lead to a multilateral agreement on this matter within the WTO framework.

    My Government also endorses the introduction of the three other "new issues" that have been included in the final paragraph of the draft Ministerial Declaration.

    We trust that, as a result of this meeting and of the decisions that will be adopted, the World Trade Organization will have greater credibility and stronger functions, that the ground will be laid for truly satisfactory implementation of the Agreements, and that greater opportunities will be afforded for trade and investment leading to global economic growth.