His Excellency Mr. Aboudramane Sangaré
The delegation of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, which I am honoured to lead, wishes to convey its warmest congratulations to you, Mr. President, on your election to the presidency of the International Conference on Financing for Development. We commend you on the perfect organization, which I am certain will ensure our success. The President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Mr. Laurent Gbagbo, has not been able to attend and has asked me to convey to you and to the people of Mexico his fraternal greetings and the tribute of the people of our country.
Côte d’Ivoire is happy to participate in the International Conference on Financing for Development, a major event intended to set the course for a new partnership between rich and poor countries at a time when Africa, through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) initiative, is establishing a coherent framework to build its future. We are aware of the fact that poverty and destitution are a threat to the international community. The Heads of State or Government of the 189 nations that make up the United Nations agreed at the Millennium Summit to spare no effort to ensure the success of this meeting, which will undoubtedly help narrow the ever widening gap between North and South. Côte d’Ivoire also fully associates itself with efforts to implement the commitments made to eradicate poverty in all its forms and pays tribute to the United Nations and Secretary-General Kofi Annan for their work in convening this Conference.
We also wish to salute the development partners, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the International Labour Organization, the regional development banks and all others who have invested in such an outstanding way in developing the Monterrey Consensus, which has been adopted.
The African continent has been hard hit by poverty and has the largest number of least developed countries. Our peoples have great expectations for the conclusion of this meeting and they look forward to a genuine launching of their economies.
My country agrees with the G-77 and China that improvement of the social situation, living standards and protection of the environment through the mobilization of resources in a framework of new and appropriate partnership between developing and rich countries could effectively help eliminate poverty.
To that end, my country believes that steps need to be taken in three major areas. First, all debt-relief initiatives that are a heavy burden on our financial capacities should be strengthened. In this regard, we welcome the various initiatives, including those that favour the highly indigent poor countries. Côte d’Ivoire, with a public debt stock of $8 billion and an annual servicing that absorbs more than half of its earnings, expects to reach the point of deciding quickly this year, once it has prepared its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.
The second major focus is increasing private direct investment, which has a more significant impact on wealth creation and involves fewer conditionalities. Direct investments create employment and make a lasting contribution to poverty reduction. But this assumes that our countries enjoy peace, stability, security and a transparent physical and legal framework. Similarly, an increase in public investment infrastructure and basic services, transport, education, health, energy and telecommunications is necessary. These direct investments need to be carried out in a spirit of partnership between the private sectors of the North and the South within an appropriate institutional framework.
The third focus is removing trade barriers and liberalizing trade, particularly in the agricultural sector to permit the trade of African countries to develop and to take advantage of the opportunities of globalization. In this regard, we need to strengthen regional and subregional groupings, which will make it possible to draw greater benefit from a more significant economic space and support partnership agreements between the South and the North. These initiatives will not exclude immediate measures aimed at increasing official development assistance and particularly budgetary assistance with a bonus for countries with a strong capacity of absorption and that try to achieve good governance.
In this area, in view of the low repayment capacity of debtor countries, the resources should essentially be concessional and include a high proportion of grants. These efforts will demonstrate the good will of rich countries, as well as of the developing countries that have their share of obligations and responsibilities to bear. All these steps, if they are effectively put into place, will, between now and 2015, lead to the eradication of absolute poverty, as stated in the Millennium Declaration.
Côte d’Ivoire is gradually returning to the rightful place it held in the family of nations and today has fruitful economic and political relations with all its regional and international partners. It is committed to the principles of good governance and democracy, which should become a system of daily management.
I wish to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the entire international community, which, by continuing to place confidence in Côte d’Ivoire, has enabled it to make a successful comeback to the international scene. This is also an opportunity to reaffirm the commitments made by the President of the Republic at the national reconciliation forum. These will be scrupulously respected.
Rather than just hope, Monterrey should offer us certainty.
* The text of this statement has been transcribed from audio recordings as the original was not submitted to the Secretariat.