H.E Mrs. Sheelagh
Mr. President, Heads of State and Government,
On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, I wish to thank the Government of Mexico for hosting this Conference and to express our appreciation for the kind hospitality offered in this beautiful city of Monterrey.
The realization of this Conference marks, we hope, a concrete step towards the fulfillment of the Millennium Development goals to which we were all committed. It is also fundamental to the implementation of the Plans of Actions adopted at the various UN Conferences to achieve sustainable development.
As many others have stressed Monterrey is not an end in itself but just a beginning. Much remains to be done. Trinidad and Tobago fully supports the Consensus.
Resource mobilisation at the national, regional and international levels is central to the development of small island developing states. Trinidad and Tobago has consequently given priority to the mobilization of domestic and international resources within an overall macro-economic policy which encourages the creation of a competitive business environment. For more than 15 years the Government has maintained those policies that were conducive to the generation of savings and the attraction of local and foreign investments. Our focus has been on the creation of an institutional, legislative and administrative framework that is investment friendly.
Success in domestic resource mobilisation is however heavily dependent on the external environment and linked to success in accessing the markets of developed countries. Many of the factors which preclude foreign investment flows lie outside of our control. Trinidad and Tobago faces the particular problem of attracting foreign investment in the nonoil sector which affects the overall development of social infrastructure. FDI tends to flow where profits are highest and not in all instances where a sound policy for the creation of a hospitable local environment exists. The challenge for the international community, including the multilateral financial institutions, is to facilitate stronger public-private sector partnerships so that foreign investment is made more supportive of national development goals.
Trinidad and Tobago applauds the recognition given to the importance of sustainable debt financing. We therefore support the call for further initiatives to reduce outstanding indebtedness by major stakeholders. However, as a small island developing country, which, paradoxically, is also a significant creditor, in relative terms, we implore the multilateral community to ensure that in the implementation of any further debt relief no additional burden is placed on countries such as ours. The cost of existing international debt relief efforts has been far too burdensome on Trinidad and Tobago, when these obligations are viewed in relation to relevant macroeconomic indicators. ;
We also support calls for debt relief to be extended to middle income countries, thus freeing up resources to finance critical areas such as health and education. Countries in our region utilize a significant portion of their GDP to meet debt servicing requirements while being confronted with major development challenges, such as the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, drug- related crime and youth under-employment.
Trade remains an essential element for generating income to meet development goals. While safety and security concerns have become a high priority of the international community, the fact remains that there can be no peace without development. The international community must guarantee the strength and stability of commodity prices and improve trade access for small economies. It must also remove barriers to exports and eliminate trade-distorting policies, particularly agricultural subsidies.
Trinidad and Tobago is therefore encouraged by the spirit of the DOHA Declaration which points to improved market access for agricultural goods, industrial products and services to benefit all members of the WTO. We also look forward to defining the modalities of a work programme for small economies.
I turn now to the special situation of Small Island Developing States(SIDS)
Heads resolved at the Millennium Summit to implement "rapidly and in full" the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action and the 1999 outcome of the Twenty-second special session of the General Assembly on SIDS. It is now universally acknowledged that small states are particularly vulnerable to international dgvelopments and natural disasters. They need international support to meet goals of sustainable development.
Of highest priority to us is the finalization of a vulnerability index which has been called for by the UN General Assembly, the SIDS special session, the South Summit and more recently the 2000 Millennium Summit. This index will assist multilateral financial institutions to assess more effectively the needs of SIDS and to accelerate the provision of technical and financial assistance, the grant of trade preferences and development assistance which guarantees our economic sustainability.
Trinidad and Tobago is committed to good governance that is based on participation and the rule of law, with a strong focus on combating corruption. The Government is also committed to an improved and effective partnership with all stakeholders in the society to secure a stable environment for growth and development.
However, while we are committed to the principle of globalization and economic liberalization to make Trinidad and Tobago a highly developed small economy, we cannot ignore the harmful social and political impact that is associated with these phenomena. There is an urgent need to reshape the financial and trade institutions which guide the process of globalization. We must develop capacity and improve governance at both national and international levels to deal with these phenomena. There must be greater coherence in international policy- making given the inter-relatedness of trade, monetary and financial policies with social and environmental issues. Indeed, "Coherence is the by word and goal of this conference".
Trinidad and Tobago will do its part toe meet our commitments in the Monterrey Consensus. Its success will ultimately depend on the ownership of it by Member States and the institutions we have created to deal with issues of development.
I thank you.
Statements at the Conference