World Trade    WT/MIN(96)/ST/94

    11 December 1996



    Original: English


Singapore, 9-13 December 1996


Statement by H.E. Mr. Osman El Hadi Ibrahim

Minister of Foreign Trade

(Speaking as an Observer)

    Allow me at the outset to join previous speakers, in congratulating you, Mr. Chairman, for your well-deserved election as Chairman of this first Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization. We are confident that, under your able leadership, our deliberations would reach a successful conclusion.

    I would like to thank the Government, and people of Singapore, for their hospitality, and excellent arrangements extended to participants. The convening of this meeting in Singapore augurs well for the success of our deliberations. The experience of Singapore is a vivid demonstration that developing countries can, with the appropriate favourable domestic and external conditions, overcome development constraints and achieve high levels of living standards for their people and become active participants in the world economy and world trade.

    While the accelerating pace in the interrelated processes of liberalization and globalization in the world economy has increased opportunities for growth and development, it has also added new complexities in managing global interdependence and risks for marginalization of least developed countries.

    The implementation of Uruguay Round Agreements combined with further unilateral liberalization will reinforce the trends towards global economic integration. Whether LDCs are able to exploit the opportunities, integrate in the international economy and mitigate the dangers of such integration, will be conditioned by the evolution of the process of globalization under the Uruguay Round Agreements, but more significantly by the ability of our countries to overcome supply side constraints, expand and diversify our exports. It is therefore evident that, if the LDCs will continue to strengthen national efforts towards economic reforms and build supply and competitive capacities, they will require adequate assistance from their development and trading partners and the competent international organizations.

    The special and differential measures accorded to LDCs in the Uruguay Round Agreements and Ministerial Decisions in favour of LDCs should be fully and effectively implemented. However, these special and differential measures alone, will not be enough to enable our countries to overcome the challenges and reap the potential benefits of these arrangements. There is need for complementary action to provide bilateral and multilateral assistance, both financial and technical to alleviate supply side constraints, enhance diversification and competitiveness. It is also imperative to take urgent action to decisively reduce the crushing debt and debt servicing burden of LDCs and substantially increase the level of Official Development Assistance, in accordance with the recommendations of the Programme of Action for the LDCs and other recent major global conferences.

    Aware of the above-mentioned challenges, and to adapt its economy to the new changes in the international economic and trading system, Sudan has been implementing, since the early 1990s, a comprehensive programme of economic and trade reforms within the context of the Comprehensive National Strategy, aiming at full liberalization of the economy, enhancement of the role of the private sector both national and foreign and measures to mitigate the transitional cost of the reform programmes.

    It is in this spirit, that Sudan has applied for membership of the WTO. We are now in the process of finalizing our memorandum for accession. It is essential that the accession process for LDCs be accelerated and becomes more flexible. We call on our development partners including multilateral institutions, to provide technical assistance for this endeavour.

    We call upon this meeting to adopt a comprehensive plan of action in favour of LDCs to enable them to overcome the challenges posed by and to reap the full potential benefits of the Uruguay Round Agreements. I wish in this context to refer to the recommendations of High-Level Intergovernmental Meeting on the Mid-Term Global Review of the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the LDCs and the Ministerial Declaration adopted by the LDCs Ministers in their meeting last November in Geneva.

    Finally we would like to associate ourselves with the proposals of the Director-General of the WTO in measures to assist LDCs in realizing the potential benefits of the Uruguay Round Agreements. We request him to continue to give priority attention to the problems and needs of LDCs.