World Trade    WT/MIN(96)/ST/84

    11 December 1996



    Original: English


Singapore, 9-13 December 1996


Statement by Mr. Vítor Rodrigues Pessoa

Secretary for Economic Coordination

    The establishment of the World Trade Organization on 1 January 1995 represented a decisive step toward reinforcement of the world economy and promotion of trade, investment, employment and sustained growth throughout the world, results of the particularly successful Marrakesh Declaration.

    The World Trade Organization has, in these almost two years of existence, evolved from the old GATT platform, strictly centred on trade of goods. It has now moved to a wider multilateral forum of negotiation of issues relating to services and protection of intellectual property, thus providing an invaluable service to the cause of peoples' progress and overall economic and social development.

    The great diversity of countries and territories under the WTO's umbrella and the different levels of development characterizing them are a stimulus and a challenge to the Organization in its mission of striving to close gaps on disparities, promoting common links and understanding the multi-dimension of problems, further deepened by the internationalization of markets and the globalization of the world economy.

    Small economies such as Macau participate in the present Ministerial Conference with mixed feelings of expectation and concern.

    Expectation because, from the resolutions of this Conference, they hope for acknowledgement that the irreversible process of liberalization of international textiles trade does take into account the needs of these suppliers.

    Economies such as Macau's expect a wider opening-up of major importing markets, especially in products that are still restricted, to prevent not only disruption of trade of these small producers, but also an actual phase out and adjustment to take place in importing markets.

    Expectation that the evaluation of peoples' living standards worldwide be considered the major objective of the international trade system, leading to closer relations between countries. Therefore, such objective should have a realistic impact on the various countries' working conditions across the board.

    In this field, Asian economies are particularly concerned over an eventual direct application to developing countries of labour standards from their developed counterparts. Sustained development of the former would be in danger of jeopardy, with current comparative advantages still being lost in the short run.

    The Government of Macau believes it to be rather unrealistic at this time to impose abrupt changes in working conditions in manufacturing sectors of developing countries, without putting employment at risk.

    Hence, Macau states here and now its willingness to subscribe a declaration whereby a stable and realistic consensus should be endorsed to, and made under the auspices of, the International Labour Organization, in its capacity as the United Nations specialized agency for promotion of labour and employment-related matters.

    On the other hand, we believe the issue of liberalization of trade in services requires an accurate formulation, especially where financial services and telecommunications are concerned. In fact, this is one of the areas raising major public opinion expectations as regards WTO efficiency and decision-making capability of its Members.

    Macau sees with great optimism any effort of liberalization being undertaken in the service sector, as this is considered by our Government essential to the implementation of the objectives proclaimed for this Conference where the review of the General Agreement on Trade in Services is concerned.

    Another source of anticipation in respect of this Meeting is the combat of illegal practices in world trade, as an essential contribution to the multilateral system and rules arising out of the Uruguay Round, which is fundamental to preserve and enforce.

    In this particular field, Macau would like to see rules of origin remain stable, especially at a time when their multilateral negotiation is being discussed under the World Customs Organization umbrella.

    Moreover, the Government of Macau believes that it would be of great significance if from this Meeting major trading partners would be discouraged to resort to both safeguard mechanisms under the Textile and Clothing Agreement and anti-dumping measures as a form of economic protectionism.

    Hence, Macau is particularly pleased to publicly prove its own effort of liberalization for most trading markets, by taking the initiative to extend its customs tariffs consolidation at zero per cent to cover a wider range of products.

    Finally, the Government of Macau believes WTO expansion to new members is always a positive contribution to the international trade system, enabling them to share in global growth and eliminating access market restrictions that still prevail in some parts of the globe.

    The Government of Macau associates itself, therefore, with those trading partners who are closely following the ongoing negotiations in this field, while at the same time trusting that the parties involved will seriously consider the benefits in welcoming newcomers to their ranks.

    We sincerely hope that Ministers participating at this Conference may find the consensus required to achieve the necessary, but difficult, compromize between trade liberalization demands, especially from developed countries, and the guarantee of sustained development of developing economies.