Statement by Mr. Ivan Kostov, Prime Minister
On its 50th Anniversary the multilateral trading system can look back to an impressive
record of achievements. After the Second World War the General Agreement on Tariffs
and Trade has been the main international instrument which through the liberalization and
expansion of world trade has contributed to economic growth, stability and welfare.
As a small and highly trade-dependent nation,
Bulgaria particularly values the achievements of the multilateral trading system.
For us, liberal trade means greater access to world markets, higher level of employment
and a better standard of living. This is why it is important for us to be part of
the international trading system.
For us, our WTO membership means more than only
sharing in the benefits of the liberalization of world trade. It is also a
commitment undertaken to abide by general rules. Bulgaria was the first country in
transition to join the WTO after its establishment. It was an irreversible
commitment to the values of liberal trade that we embraced. On the part of the
international community Bulgarias accession was an act of recognition of our efforts
in the field of economic reform.
These efforts of the Bulgarian people in the
difficult times of transition have been significant. Our trade has experienced the
negative impact of the loss of traditional markets and international embargoes against our
important trading partners. In spite of the difficulties Bulgaria has stood firmly
by its international commitments. We have not resorted to protectionist measures,
incompatible with the rules of the WTO. On the contrary, we have continued to
maintain an open economy. We have made a contribution to the liberalization of world
trade by our participation in the two major initiatives in the framework of the WTO after
its establishment: the negotiations on basic telecommunications and those on
In spite of its economic difficulties Bulgaria
grants duty-free treatment to imports from all least-developed countries.
The most significant step in the 50-year history of
the multilateral trading system is undoubtedly its institutionalization through the
establishment of the World Trade Organization, and the strengthening of its dispute
settlement mechanism. As a small country Bulgaria is particularly interested in the
enhancement of the rules of the world trading system and in perfecting the mechanisms of
We are supportive of the constant efforts to develop
and expand the system and its ability to adapt with a view to facing new challenges, while
respecting the delicate balance between the interests of its numerous participants.
Bulgaria is interested to participate for the first
time on equal footing in a future comprehensive round of multilateral trade negotiations.
The rule of law in international relations is of special interest to the small
participants. In order to ensure the continued success of the system and its
credibility in the future, it is essential to preserve and further enhance its dynamism
and to ensure that all trading partners can benefit from it.
Another important task for the future of the WTO is
its expansion through the accession of new members in order to become a truly global and
universal organization. Many of the countries now acceding to the WTO are important
trading partners for Bulgaria and therefore for us it is essential that these countries be
brought as soon as possible within the system. With the countries which have been
traditional trading partners of Bulgaria we will seek to further develop our trade
relations and expand the access of goods and services to their markets.
In the past 50 years, another major factor for the
liberalization of trade, alongside with the multilateral trading, has been regional
economic integration. As a European country which strives to join the European Union, we
sincerely believe that regional integration and the multilateral trading system are
compatible and mutually supportive.
In conclusion, let me express once again, our full
commitment to the international trading system and our hope that in the 21st Century its
institutions and rules will be further strengthened and developed to benefit all the
worlds peoples and to contribute to global welfare.