World Trade    WT/MIN(96)/ST/82

    11 December 1996



    Original: English


Singapore, 9-13 December 1996



Message to the Ministerial Conference

from Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Secretary General of the UN

    I am pleased to extend my warm greetings to the participants at the First Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization.

    In its two years of life, the World Trade Organization has already become a key actor on the global scene.

    The evolving cooperation between the United Nations system and the World Trade Organization over the last two years is a welcome sign of shared perceptions of the global development challenge, and of a willingness to devise solutions in common. The objectives of the World Trade Organization  -to promote economic growth and sustainable development through trade - are, indeed, a crucial component of the new framework for international cooperation and development that we are, together, called upon to build.

    The World Trade Organization can maximize its contribution to this endeavour through three interrelated priority objectives.

    First, to strengthen the participation of the developing countries, and especially the least developed countries, so that they are able to reap full benefit from the enlarged trading opportunities that are becoming available.

    Second, to become universal in its membership: a key goal, in the next few years, should be to bring the acceding countries fully into the multilateral trading system.

    Third, to further reinforce its cooperation with the United Nations system to respond effectively to the evolving requirements of the new international environment. As part of this effort, a further expansion and diversification of the excellent cooperation that has already been established between the World Trade Organization and UNCTAD, as a development-oriented Organization, is especially important.

    The overall goals of poverty eradication and sustainable development, and the creation of an international environment supportive of growth and social progress, should guide our common endeavours. Within these priorities - set for international organizations by the General Assembly and the recent series of global conferences convened by the United Nations - assisting developing countries in taking full advantage of the new opportunities that globalization offers for trade, investment, and technology flows, will be a key common task in the period ahead.

    I am confident that the deliberations of this historic Conference will serve to advance the causes of free trade and economic growth, and to enhance the international community's capacity to address effectively the new global challenges facing the world and its peoples.

Footnote: 1See also WT/MIN(96)/ST/81.