Mr. S.I. Kolotukhin
International Conference on Financing for Development
First of all I would like to thank UN Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan and President of Mexico Mr. Vicente Fox for an excellent preparation and organization of such a representative forum designed to provide additional impetus to the efforts of the international community in the area of development financing aimed at poverty eradication. Against the background of impressive achievements in science and technology as well as the development of freedom and democracy – that are changing rapidly the face of the planet and providing unprecedented possibilities for accelerating growth and increasing the standards of living – the existing spread of poverty represents one of the major challenges to modern civilization. The solution of this problem within the framework set out in the Millennium Declaration by Heads of State will be a determining factor for creating a more secure, stable and fair world free from a terrorist threat.
In a globalized world it is impossible to solve the problem of poverty without joint efforts of all countries and international organizations, without enhanced cooperation between the UN, Bretton-Woods institutions and the WTO. Nor it is possible without full utilization of the private sector potential or without broad participation of civil society in setting development priorities. These are precisely the coherent efforts among all development partners which are called for in the outcome document of our Conference – the Monterrey Consensus – that we are adopting today. It is designed to create favourable external and domestic conditions for increasing the volume of resources allocated for development purposes and raising the effectiveness of their use.
There is no doubt that it is precisely the mobilization of domestic resources that should play a decisive role in financing for development, based on a sound national economic policies and improved public administration. Official development assistance should play a complementary role and be used most effectively to achieve national and international development goals. The soundness of this approach is also confirmed by the Russian experience of transition to a market economy. Without denying, in principle, the considerable potential and the catalytic role of foreign assistance, we nevertheless believe that it should not be a substitute for individual efforts of national governments to reform the economy and provide conditions for its sustainable development. At the same time, we consider that foreign assistance could play a key role in the poorest countries, especially those in crisis areas. It should be provided in a way that would contribute to stabilizing the situation and launching domestic growth mechanisms against the backdrop of financial stability.
In the era of globalization external conditions for a successful self-sustained development of all countries are no less important. The role of international trade as one of the major development factors becomes much more pronounced. That is why it is particularly important to provide stable, predictable and non-discriminatory conditions for market access and to avoid resorting to protectionism that limits comparative advantages of exporters from developing countries and transition economies. According to some estimates, the removal of direct and indirect trade barriers could provide these countries with benefits many times bigger than the proposed increase of development assistance.
There is a need to further enhance the universality of the multilateral trade system by increasing the WTO membership. However, the accession requirements for new WTO members should not exceed the level of commitments undertaken by the existing ones. This is especially important for Russia which is now actively involved in negotiations on accession to the WTO as soon as possible.
Currently a global development is inconceivable without strengthening the stability of the international financial system. This involves intensified efforts to reduce its vulnerability and to forecast, prevent and resolve crises in an orderly manner.
The problem of foreign debt is a serious hurdle for development, especially for the poorest countries. We are actively participating in the HIPC Initiative and have written off more than $ 25 billion of their debt even though our country has its own sizeable external debt and goes to great pains to service it in due course.
Our commitment to international development goals is being substantiated by Russia’s solid practical contribution. It takes the form of our subsidies to poorer CIS countries along with the restructuring of their debt, participation in the HIPC Initiative, as well as in other international initiatives, such as combating HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, replenishing IDA resources, UN programs and funds, providing humanitarian assistance, reconstructing Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. Russia has also removed custom duties on the majority of goods imported from least developed countries. With the strengthening of Russia’s economic and financial capabilities our involvement in development assistance will increase.
Thank you for your attention.
Statements at the Conference