World Trade WT/MIN(96)/ST/86
11 December 1996
Singapore, 9-13 December 1996
Let me first of all add my voice to those who spoke before me in congratulating you, Mr. Chairman, on your appointment as Chairman of this august assembly. I have no doubt in my mind that you will successfully steer the course of this very important Conference to a fruitful conclusion.
Secondly, let me also express my appreciation and satisfaction for the outstanding performance of WTO under the very able stewardship of Mr. Renato Ruggiero. The statement we heard from the Director-General highlighted so many solid accomplishments which could only have been achieved through hard work and a clear sense of direction. I also acknowledge the fact that a lot remains to be done towards the full realization of the objectives for which WTO was established.
Thirdly, the Gambia would like to express its appreciation and gratitude to all those countries, such as Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, and the European Union, through whose financial assistance the Gambia and other LDCs were able to participate in this Conference. Singapore deserves special mention for its generous hospitality and the excellent facilities put at the disposal of the Conference.
The Gambia, with a population of just over a million people, located on the west coast of Sub-Saharan Africa, is among the smallest, poorest and least developed nations of the world. For countries in that category, the process of socio-economic development poses very many challenges. The odds are just too many and all too familiar to mention them here. For us in the Gambia, we are facing up to the challenges with optimism and determination.
We are reviewing and formulation policies that would enhance the development of our key economic sectors; we are striving to develop our human resources; we are investing more on the development of basic infrastructure; we are promoting the private sector to take the lead in economic activity; we are improving the environment for development investments through the provision of attractive incentive packages for investors; the Gambia is trying to build a sustainable democratic system of government based on transparency, accountability, probity, the rule of law and respect for human rights; etc.
All these measures are very well elaborated on our Vision 2020 Document.
I am sure many of the LDCs are involved in similar efforts. However, these efforts must be supported by the developed nations if the aspirations of the developing countries are to be achieved. The marginalization, deprivation and poverty in the LDCs should be a global concern. A blazing fire in the LDCs is capable of sending choking smoke to the developed industrialized nations of the world. The economic prosperity of the LDCs, on the other hand, enlarges the global market and enhances global peace and prosperity. In all the issues this Conference will address, let there be special consideration for the poor nations of the world particularly sub-Saharan Africa which is at the bottom of the economic ladder.
I would like to mention trade and investment with particular emphasis on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the LDCs. Sub-Saharan Africa, like in many other LDCs, has abundant untapped natural resources which could be exploited through inflows of investment resources and technology from the developed world. The industrialized countries should relocate some of their industries (especially the light industries) in the LDCs in order to facilitate technology transfer to the LDCs and take advantage of the great potentials for growth in these regions.
Secondly, the Gambia would like to add its voice to those calling for unrestricted participation of all nations in world trade and membership of the WTO irrespective of the political circumstances and the sovereign choices of the peoples of these nations. In this regard, countries such as the Republic of China and other nations yearning to be full Members of the WTO should be allowed to fulfil their aspirations.
Finally, my delegation would like to bring to the attention of this Conference the following issues of great relevance to the Gambia and, I hope, other LDCs:
- The expeditious implementation of all special and differential measures taken in favour of LDCs;
- application, in a flexible and supportive manner for the LDCs, of the various Agreements and instruments and the transitional provisions in the Uruguay Round; and
- substantially increased technical assistance for LDCs, in the development, strengthening and diversification of their production and export including services, as well as in trade promotion, to enable them to maximize the benefits from liberalized access to markets.