Zine El Abidine Ben Ali
President of the Republic of Tunisia

Delivered on his behalf by

M. Mohamed Ghannouchi
Prime Minister

International Conference on Financing for Development 

Monterrey, Mexico
18 March 2002

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Your Excellency, President Vicente Fox Quesada, Conference chairman,
Your Excellencies, Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations,
Honorable Heads of Delegations, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are pleased, at the outset, to extend our deepest thanks and great consideration to His Excellency, President Vicente Fox Quesada, as well as to the friendly people of Mexico; and to commend the excellent manner in which they have organized the proceedings of this summit. We should also like to recognize the steps taken by UN member states in preparing the conference document. We also extend to Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, our thanks for the laudable efforts he is exerting at the head of our prestigious organization.

Our hope is for the proceedings of this Conference to be crowned by practical decisions contributing to the entrenchment of progress and well-being for mankind, within a climate of coexistence, cooperation, and solidarity.

Tunisia is aware of the need to mobilize national resources and reinforce foreign investment to develop the economy and achieve prosperity, as well as the ensuing requirement: to carry out a fundamental and comprehensive reform at the national level and to initiate a true partnership at the regional as well as the international level.

Our country has embarked upon economic liberalization, convinced as it is that liberalization is an essential factor in successful development, taking into consideration notably social balances and the protection of vulnerable social categories against the hazards of marginalization and exclusion. Thus, we have encouraged free enterprise in all production sectors and issued a number of legal instruments covering the various structures of the economy, including the reform of taxation, the reinforcement of the monetary and financial system, and the upgrading of public enterprises operating within the competitive sector.

We have also striven to encourage investment by setting up numerous facilities and incentives, within the framework of a unified investment code. Furthermore, we have developed a legislative framework for free trade zones and consolidated partnership with all countries.

The importance we attach to the establishment of balanced partnership relations, at the international level, stems from our resolve to meet the requirements of cooperation with regional groupings which are now a characteristic feature of our contemporary world; and to reinforce the attributes of a dignified life, for all nations and all peoples, within a comprehensive approach founded on a close interdependence between the requirements of security, peace, and development.

The debate that was started on this topic, during the latest session of the Davos World Economic Forum in New York, has confirmed the awareness of all parties, including the business sector, of the importance of cooperation for development. Indeed, peace and security could not prevail worldwide, unless all forms of poverty, marginalization, and exclusion are eliminated.

Based on the success of our experience in bringing down the poverty rate to the lowest level, through interventions by the
National solidarity Fund, we have called for the setting up of a World solidarity Fund to help eradicate poverty and impel social development in least favored countries. While noting with satisfaction the adoption of this initiative by the UN General Assembly, we hope that appropriate mechanisms will be developed to establish this Fund as soon as possible, in line with the Millennium Summit Declaration on the eradication of poverty worldwide.

Mr. Chairman,
Based on the widening digital gap between industrialized countries and developing nations, we are convinced of the need to take the necessary practical measures to enable all states to keep abreast of technological progress and to take advantage of the broad perspectives provided by the information revolution and quickening economic changes.

It is within this context that we situate Tunisia's initiative, submitted during the meeting of the International Telecommunications Union in Minneapolis, to host an international summit on the "Knowledge Society". In this regard, we should like to express our deep consideration to all those who have contributed with us for holding this summit in Tunis, in 2005.

We avail ourselves of this opportunity to invite the industrialized nations to further promote cooperation with developing countries in the areas of trade and finance and in sectors related to the environment; and to put into practice agreements reached in this area during the World Trade Organization (WTO) Conference in Doha.

Mr. Chairman,
The decision by donor countries to increase to 0.7% of GNP the size of public assistance to development is still difficult to achieve. Hence the need for common action to attain our goals, facilitate conditions for granting assistance, entrench international solidarity, and initiate a true partnership between donor countries and beneficiary countries. The experience of the past few years has shown the efficiency of complementarity between public assistance to development and the promotion of constructive trade relations, in accordance with the principles of the WTO, including the principles of preferential treatment for developing countries.

Tunisia had also warned against the grave repercussions of the continued and increasing debt burden on the economy of developing nations. This was done through the call to the G8, during its Toronto summit in 1989. Tunisia has continued its efforts in the same vein, during later meetings, the latest being the Havana South Summit; it has also addressed a message to this effect to the Okinawa Summit. We take this opportunity to express our consideration to those states who have written off, totally or in part, the debt owed by least advanced countries and exhort the other industrialized nations to follow their example. Furthermore, we call for the specific characteristics of debtor nations to be taken into consideration in dealing with the debt issue. Indeed, there is no justification for excluding mediumincome countries from appropriate facilities, following the considerable efforts they have made to introduce structural adjustments within their economies and meet their commitments, while relying essentially on their own capabilities.

Wile underscoring the need to reinforce the harmonization of trade, financial, and monetary policies worldwide and to intensify cooperation between the various specialized international institutions and organizations, we advocate that the United Nations Organization remain the appropriate framework for the attainment of such objectives. To do so, the UN should promote its action in the economic field and rationalize coordination with specialized UN and other international organizations, to ensure an enhanced interdependence of issues related to security, peace, and development. This is, in fact, the approach advocated by Tunisia when it assumed the presidency of the UN Security Council in February 2001.

Mr. Chairman, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The current economic situation worldwide dictates that all states reinforce their relations of cooperation and solidarity so as to establish a just and balanced economic order fostering a true partnership between developing countries and advanced nations and, hence, consolidating security and stability worldwide.

We hope that this international Conference will serve as an effective starting point in building international relations entrenching such objectives and orientations and paving the way for a better future for all mankind.

Thank you for your attention.

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