World Trade    WT/MIN(96)/ST/71

    11 December 1996



    Original: French


Singapore, 9-13 December 1996


Statement by H.E. Mr. Mihai Berinde

Secretary of State, Ministry of Trade

    As you are aware, since the establishment of the WTO on 1 January 1995, the multilateral trading system has had a permanent structure that is certainly stronger than its predecessor, the GATT.

    The signatories to the Agreement Establishing the WTO have thus realized one of the most important institutional aspirations of international economic cooperation.

    As we meet to make a first assessment of the new Organization, Romania joins the family of WTO Members in renewing and reinforcing its decision to implement the results of the Uruguay Round and reaffirms its political will to continue the broad process of negotiation aimed at establishing an open and flexible rule-based multilateral trading system.

    This Conference is of particular significance. It is the first in a series of ministerial meetings provided for by the WTO Agreement. But what is more important is the fact that it gives us an opportunity to ensure that national policies are in line with multilateral rules and disciplines. In so doing, we shall be contributing to the strengthening of the legal framework for open and balanced trade, a real factor for progress and sustainable development, confidence and stability throughout the world.

    The Singapore Conference has become a point of reference for all WTO activity and the future towards which the Organization is moving. The Ministerial Conference should recognize the positive results of the first two years of the WTO's existence and the efforts its Members have made to fulfil their obligations. At the same time, it should identify certain objective difficulties which have emerged during this process and encourage Members to adopt appropriate technical assistance measures. It should also confirm the Work Programme and establish future objectives for the WTO.

    Romania keenly appreciates the value and importance of the WTO, which brings together the participants in international trade, be they large, medium or small, developed, in transition or developing.

    Romania's pursuit of integration into the multilateral trading system has not been easy, considering that the country faces a dual process of reform: domestic transition and structural transformation to a market economy, and integration into a multilateral system of stricter and considerably more detailed rules and disciplines.

    The most recent developments in the political life of my country will lead to the acceleration of the reform process and will require an even greater effort.

    In its attempt to apply the WTO Agreement, Romania has paid particular attention to the question of compatibility between domestic legislation and trade policy measures and the provisions of the Agreement. Positive results have been achieved in the areas of rules, intellectual property rights, transparency and notifications.

    Commitments on market access for goods and services have been applied in accordance with agreed timetables. We are open to participation in new multilateral negotiations aimed at broader liberalization, in which our interests and actual possibilities are taken into account. Thus, we are continuing to study in a favourable light the possibility of actively participating in the negotiations on services, including basic telecommunications.

    At the same time, Romania will support the implementation of the Work Programme under the WTO Agreement and contribute to the lasting consolidation of the multilateral trading system.

    We welcome the recent establishment of the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements and its Work Programme. As you know, Romania lies within a region where such agreements have developed significantly in recent years, in response to regional and international trade liberalization. From its own experience, Romania can affirm that regionalism has already shown that it can play a positive role in trade liberalization and in the creation of new trading opportunities for all Members of the WTO. Regionalism and multilateralism - far from working against each other - are complementary and mutually reinforcing.

    With regard to new issues, Romania attaches great importance to the beginning of a dialogue on investment, competition, the simplification of trade procedures, transparency of regulations and procurement practices. These new elements will facilitate the gradual opening up of the WTO system to areas which, in our opinion, are closely linked to trade and which will enable the WTO to develop and reinforce its role in the world economy.

    We are determined to support efforts aimed at expanding the WTO and we favour the accession of new member countries, being convinced that this process will have a positive impact on the rule-based multilateral trading system.

    The points which I have made illustrate Romania's desire to make a contribution to the growth and smooth development of the multilateral trading system. We believe that the documents submitted for consideration at the Conference and the results of the meeting will give us a clear idea of the achievements of the WTO and the future of our Organization in the next century, when it will play a valuable role of great political and economic significance.

    In conclusion, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, and the other Officers on your election.

    I would also like to express the gratitude of my delegation for the effort the host country has made towards the preparation and success of the Conference, as well as for the warmth of our welcome.

    Last, but by no means least, I would like to thank the Director-General of the WTO, Mr. Renato Ruggiero, and the Secretariat, whose unfailing competence, devotion and readiness to assist in Geneva and here in Singapore have ensured such excellent arrangements for this Conference.