President of Romania

at the
International Conference on Financing for Development

Monterrey, Mexico
March 21-22, 2002

Mr. President Fox,
Mr. Secretary General of the United Nations, Distinguished Attendees,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me first of all to address my thanks to you, Mr. President, and through you, to the local authorities in Monterrey, to the whole friendly Mexican people for hosting this important conference and for the warm hospitality extended to us.

The economic and social development is an issue that concerns humanity as a whole. Globalization is the nowadays phenomenon that, on the one hand, speeds up the economic processes, offering opportunities for economic and social development of all countries, but, on the other hand, it highlights ever stronger the divide between the rich and the poor countries. This divide, if ignored or treated with indifference, may become an obstacle as well as a threat for the world's peace and stability, for all the actors of the globalization process.

Romania considers that the involvement of the United Nations in formulating adequate answers to the economic and social problems faced by the developing countries is both necessary and natural. In this way, the Organization fulfills its mission, that of representing and harmonizing the interests of all its members.

Despite the efforts made by the UN Member States, by international financial organizations and by many private companies that have understood the stakes of the development process at the global level, the widening of social gaps has become the upsetting reality of today's world. While 20% of the inhabitants of our planet consume 80% of its resources and possess as much of its wealth, 1 % of the wealthiest people in the world have revenues higher than 57% of the poor. Almost a billion people have no access to water sources, 2.4 billions have no access to basic medical care, 854 millions are illiterate, and 1.2 billion people live on less than 1 USD per day - according to data supplied by UNDP.

Therefore, the increase of the social and economic polarization has become, through its direct and indirect effects, the main source of instability throughout the world. And it happens at a time when the global economy has reached unprecedented growth rates. Over the past fifty years, the global production of goods and services has risen more than seven times. Moreover, the gap between the rich and poor countries has widened dramatically. The disparity of revenues between the rich and the poor has also increased in the richest countries, thus threatening their social stability. And, without social stability, development and economic growth can hardly be imagined.

These gaps, relating to the revenues of citizens and the wealth or poverty of nations, are complemented by another one, equally bad for most of the inhabitants of our planet: the one separating those who know, who have access to knowledge and information, from those who see themselves deprived of this opportunity. In a world in which well-being is ever more fundamentally linked to knowledge, innovation, the new information and communication technologies. education and quality of professional training have become decisive for economic development and gaps reduction.

The eradication of poverty throughout the world and the reduction of economic and social gaps remain major goals for all countries, including the rich ones.

To keep under control, through military means, the present sources of instability and armed conflicts is more costly than the aid offered to the poor countries by the developed ones. As a matter of fact, the average development assistance offered by the OECD member countries has constantly declined in the last few years, standing for only 0.22% of the GDP of the respective countries. We find ourselves ever farther from the objective set as early as 1969 by the United Nations, that the ODA should reach 0.7% of the GDP of the developed countries. Unfortunately, many of these public funds for development have been earmarked for military programmes, thus making this aid even less efficient.

Throughout its existence, the United Nations Organization has pursued multiple actions in favor of a sustainable and equitable economic development. They have been more or less successful, depending on a series of political, ideological, and even financial factors. It has not been easy to ensure a constant inflow of financial resources for development projects in countries confronted with domestic instability, fragility of institutions, corruption and bureaucracy, or involved in conflicts with their neighbours.

If, until now, national governments and financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, have been regarded as the main actors for financing development, the International Conference on Financing for Development has as a goal to integrate the other important actors, particularly from the private sector. Beside them, it is also noteworthy the representatives of the civil society, because we must not ignore the social and ecological dimensions of development.

We also appreciate the inclusion of the World Trade Organization in this process. The opening of markets and the liberalization of trade represent a development opportunity, but also a challenge to the weaker economies. The free unregulated market has always caused social polarization. That is why there is a need for national social policies in favor of disadvantaged people and for reducing the gaps. The international organizations have to design policies and measures at the global level in order to bridge over the huge gaps between the rich and the poor countries.

The World Trade Organization must set clear regulations for the efficient functioning of markets and supervise their implementation, thus preventing, at the same time, any abuses of the dominant forces on the global market.

In the process of opening the markets, we have to take into account the need to protect and encourage the national production in the underprivileged countries. Let us neither ignore nor minimize the risks of opening the markets or consider the liberalization of trade as a panacea for the problems of development. There is enough evidence of the negative effects of liberalization not supplemented by compensation measures and global regulating mechanisms, which have worsened the imbalances in the underdeveloped countries, have exacerbated poverty and social polarization.

Romania is glad to find out that a consensus is emerging with respect to the topics on the agenda of this Conference.

We will firmly support all the actions aimed at improving coordination and enhancing coherence of the process of financing for a sustainable and equitable development.

The world economy, affected by the consequences of the 11 th of September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US, is showing some signs of improvement.

Yet, we have to promote the measures for supporting a sustainable economic growth throughout the world, and the efficient use of financial resources earmarked for development.

We fully support the conclusions of the World Bank and of the Zedillo Report, according to which it is necessary to double the world inflow of ODA. The eradication of poverty, of famine and social diseases, the lessening of development gaps
must become the top priority of the international community

We need new mechanisms at the global level, which allow us to fulfill these ambitious goals, particularly because the world economy has the necessary resources to sustain them.

We live in an evermore interconnected and complex world, in which one cannot imagine individual answers to global issues, and in which protectionism or isolationism do not produce the results expected by those enticed to appeal to them. Neither is the free game of the market a rational way for development. They have always favored those who have powerful market positions, and have disadvantaged the poor actors.. The high-level participation in this Conference of a significant number of UN member states represents an important political signal given to the international community. It testifies to the commitment of these states to mobilize the necessary financial resources for sustainable development, as well as for creating the domestic and international conditions necessary to fulfill these development objectives. There is imperious need for a more active involvement of the disadvantaged countries and the countries in transition, which are beneficiary of international assistance, in the process of decision-making of the international economic organizations and fora and a more accurate reflection of these countries' opinions and interests.

Likewise, it is not by chance, that the international economic fora are increasingly emphasizing the need to enhance the social responsibility of the economic actors, particularly of the multinational companies. The latest must also get involved in changing the motivation of the economic actors. Not only profit, for the sake of profit. The economy has to serve all people, not only a favored minority. This has to be the motto of all factors - national and international - who have an impact and decide on the path of the economy at the beginning of this new century, so that to combine economic efficiency with social effects.

We have to think together of the ways to diminish the costs of financing development, including through the restructuring and better management of the debt of the poorest countries. At the same time, we have the obligation to harmonize the requirements of development with those of preventing
economic and financial crises. Life has shown that any crisis consumes resources, induces political, economic and social instability, inefficiency, and leads to the missing of opportunities for development.

Romania has experienced, during the reform and transition process from the state-commanded economy to the market economy, a number of serious difficulties related to financing for development. The scarcity of domestic and external resources is characteristic for the transition period in Romania. The difficulties are due to the inertia of the system manifested, on the one hand, in the promotion of the reform processes and, on the other hand, in the creation of the new market economy institutions. Besides, we have not yet managed to find the most appropriate ways to attract foreign investments.

In its economic policy, Romania sets out from with the necessity to promote the public-private partnership and to combine economic efficiency with social justice and reduction of inequalities between the members of the society, according to the requests of a new sustainable human development. In this way only can the necessary economic reform be understood and supported by all the members of the society. Without the active support of the civil society, no reform can succeed.

Although well-known for its social model, which has been beneficial to its sustainable economic development, Europe is also confronted with major development gaps, particularly between the EU member countries and the countries seeking accession.

In our vision, the Monterrey Conference should seek to make up an international alliance, aimed at allocating, in an equitable way, the resources for financing sustainable development and strengthening multilateral cooperation aimed at solving the economic, financial, commercial and social problems. Without such a fair allocation of funds for development, the national efforts to mobilize the domestic resources remain without the expected results.

We are aware that a factor likely to ensure a constant and significant inflow of financial resources is represented by the promotion of a good national governance, through the building up of democracy, the respect of human rights, the achievement of a tolerance climate regarding the relationships between the majority population and minorities, as well as the consensual approach to controversial issues.

Romania has taken firm steps for ensuring and maintaining macroeconomic balances, for the rational and efficient use of public money on projects of a general interest, particularly in infrastructure, as well as for combating corruption and bureaucracy, including through the correct management of the assistance for development. We are paying particular attention to improving the management of economic agents, fighting inflation, maintaining the stability of the national currency, and to the reasonable structuring and management of the foreign debt.

For Romania, ensuring a complementarity between domestic and external resources of financing for sustainable development is a central goal of its economic and social policies. In this context, we also pursue to meet the economic and institutional criteria of Romania's accession to the European Union. The regional and subregional cooperation and integration represent factors of economic progress and instruments of sustainable development.

Distinguished Audience,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Monterrey Conference, through the major importance and significance of its agenda, as well as through its final outcome, is the economic event of the year 2002. "The Monterrey Consensus" will give a new shape and a new dimension to the international cooperation meant to ensure the financing for sustainable and equitable development. It will complement the efforts that made it possible to launch in Doha the new round of multilateral trade negotiations set under the sign of the balanced development of all nations. Besides, the states of the world give a strong signal in favor of a multilateral approach to development, which is not solely related to the liberalization of the international trade.

Romania hopes that the success of this Conference will enable the achievement of the development-related objectives set out in the "Declaration of the Millennium" and will contribute to the good preparation of the forthcoming World Summit for Sustainable Development to be held in Johannesburg.

We salute and support the coordinating role of the United Nations in promoting the global strategies of development. The time has come to seriously think of setting up an Economic and Social Security Council of the United Nations, allowing a better coordination and increased efficiency of all these complex projects.

In conclusion, Mr. President, I would like to express my hope that our endeavours will be understood and supported by all those who are interested in creating a worldwide stable economic and social climate, in reducing the development gaps, for a more equitable and peaceful world.

Thank you for your attention.

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