THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED NATIONS
H.E. MR JULIAN R. HUNTE AT UNCTAD XI
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL
13-18 JUNE 2004
14 JUNE 2004
Excellency the President of Brazil, Esteemed Heads of
Government, Mr. Secretary-General, Ministers, Mr Secretary-General
UNCTAD and Heads of United Nations agencies, Excellencies,
wish to join all those who have expressed their appreciation
to the Government and People of Brazil for warmly welcoming
us here in Sao Paulo, and for the excellent arrangements
made for this meeting. As President of the United Nations
General Assembly, I am appreciative of this special
opportunity to participate in UNCTAD XI, and thank the
Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Mr. Rubens Ricupero, for
extending an invitation to me.
XI has a significant task, on which we are all agreed.
It is to review the critical issue of coherence. That
is, how can we best enhance consistency between the
development strategies we plan at the national level
on the one hand, and global economic processes on the
other. The premise of this exercise may seem relatively
simple, but it underpins the more complex, multidimensional
issue of how to further economic growth and development,
particularly of developing countries, in the current
years ago at UNCTAD X, we concluded that globalisation
and interdependence opened up new opportunities for
growth and development, a proposition that, together
with trade liberalization, has been gaining in significance
since the mid 1990s. This was an encouraging proposition
for developing countries, one which offered new opportunities
for integration into the global economy; improvement
in overall economic performance through the opening
of markets; promotion of the transfer of technology,
information and skills, and an increase in financial
resources available for development.
was a straightforward matter therefore, for developing
countries to buy into the premise of globalisation and
trade liberalization, which could, on the face of it,
spur economic growth and development. A clear distinction
must be made, however, between the premise of globalisation
and trade liberalization and the reality. The premise
was that all would prosper; the reality is that many,
particularly in the developing world, have yet to do
so. Consequently, numerous developing countries are
still clutching at economic growth and development straws,
while others, mostly developed countries, are afloat
on an ocean of prosperity.
challenges of globalisation and trade liberalization,
I submit, are in some measure part of the growing sense
of uncertainty that seems to be permeating our world
in these the initial years of the twenty-first century.
The lack of significant progress in the Doha round of
trade negotiations and the setback of the Cancun World
Trade Ministerial Conference, for example, raise questions
about whether there is common ground sufficient to lead
to a truly equitable global trading system, a system
that would be as advantageous to developing countries,
as it is, to developed countries.
key matter influencing current uncertainties is the
impact of multinational corporations on development.
National interest is not the principle factor driving
corporations or underpinning their business decisions
- more generally, it is the profit motive. Yet, the
influence of corporations on the national economy can
curtail the freedom of action of many governments, particularly
in the developing world, to set and implement development
all, corporations are free to shift industries and jobs
to lower costs, lower wage countries. Indeed, such shifts
do not necessarily take into account benefits that might
accrue in a new location, but rather, maximizing profits.
Our decisions to hold multinational corporations to
responsibility and accountability, therefore, must stand.
challenges to sustainable development, human rights
abuses, transnational organized crime, the deadly HIV/AIDS
pandemic, conflict and war worldwide, and terrorism
are all also critical developments adding to global
uncertainty. They constitute part of the significant
threats that challenges the global community, and for
which change is urgently needed. If these words strike
a familiar chord, yes, they are a reflection of the
"work in progress" of the Secretary-General's
High-level Panel, whose report is expected to shed important
light on these and other matters.
we have come to UNCTAD XI not only to focus on the troubled
state of the global economic order, or indeed on the
myriad challenges we face. Our attention must be fixed
primarily on the challenge of determining how to remove
the barriers preventing synergies between national and
international action, so as to promote growth and development.
In doing so, we must take fully on board important courses
of action to which we have all pledged commitment, such
as those set out in the International Conference on
Financing for Development and the World Summit for Sustainable
and Minister I am, Economist I am not. I do, however,
have clear views on the issues before UNCTAD XI, which
come from my experience as Minister of International
Trade of my country, St Lucia, and from the vantage
point of President of the United Nations General Assembly.
I believe this is an opportune time to share some of
these views with you.
me begin by emphasising that developing countries benefit
most from liberal and fair markets to which they are
able to export their agricultural and manufactured goods
and services; indeed, markets that are free of discretionary
standards, technical, environmental and other requirements,
mechanisms for developing countries have greater impact
when they provide not only technical cooperation to
implement multilateral trade agreements but other essential
support as well, including adjustment support and institutional
and capacity building.
trade rules, fairly applied, provide developing countries
essential development space. Factoring in Special and
Differential treatment in structural and emerging asymmetries
between the developed and developing countries help
to provide such space.
the case of small, open and vulnerable economies, including
those of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and in
respect of least developed and landlocked developing
countries, special and differential treatment creates
a more level playing field for their industries and
enterprises to compete.
Asymmetries should, I believe, be addressed in existing
and new agreements, which should also include as essential
elements - developmental, financial and trade considerations.
trade negotiations are about balance - between rights
and obligations, costs and benefits, in processes, selection
of issues, sequencing and timelines and importantly,
between ambition and practical outcomes. In the complex
negotiating and decision-making processes of world trade
and of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in which we
are engaged, care must betaken that creating balance
on the one hand, does no create new imbalances on the
other. In that regard, levels of development continue
to be a key priority to be taken into account in reaching
accommodation advantageous to all, and particularly
to developing countries. It is also important to bear
in mind that true consensus on trade rules require that
we are all at the negotiating table, and that our negotiations
and outcomes are transparent.
believe that Commodities must have a more prominent
place on the international trade and development cooperation
agenda. It is a fact that some fifty developing countries,
a full quarter of the United Nations membership, depend
on some two to three commodity exports. Thirty-nine
countries depend on exports of a single commodity. Unless
we urgently review and address the commodity situation
and the operation of markets, accomplishing development
goals will continue to be a challenge for many.
international community made a commitment, in the Millennium
Declaration, to make the right to development a reality.
This, I believe, requires us to address critical issues
such as poverty eradication, the provision of a social
safety net and deadly pandemics. A fair and equitable
trading system helps to spur development; our initiatives
in the area of international trade, therefore, must
be responsive to these key development issues.
am a strong believer that development efforts and the
global processes that support them must be underpinned
by coherence in the multilateral system. As an advocate
for the creation of appropriate linkages between trade,
financial, technical and development policies, I am
particularly pleased that the UNCTAD, the agency charged
with trade and development, is now a participant in
High-level dialogue among the Economic and Social Council,
the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organisation.
is an important time for UNCTAD, as we review its essential
mandate as the sole United Nations body addressing trade
and development matters. UNCTAD has made tremendous
strides under the leadership of Secretary-General Ricupero
- I commend him for his accomplishments.
must continue to provide invaluable policy guidance
for development initiatives, including those focused
on creating a -more inclusive and equitable global economic
order, and on implementing internationally agreed development
goals. Not only should UNCTAD have requisite resources
to carry out its mandate, but its technical expertise
should also be tapped to help meet broader trade and
are many obstacles on the path to development - each
government must confront their own. We are generally
agreed that our efforts for economic growth and development
should focus, in particular, on developing countries.
I dare say that developing countries efforts to surmount
obstacles and create an environment conducive to socio-economic
development and to take decisive action, individually
and collectively in this area are not about seeking
help to survive in turbulent economic times; It is about
taking their rightful place as partners in the global
economy. UNCTAD XI gives us the opportunity to address
these issues. It is critical that we use this invaluable
forum as a time for dialogue; a time for decision; and,
a time for action.