Working Out Differences at Doha Talks Would Be in Best Interest of All Countries, Pakistan Says, as Second Committee Concludes Debate on Trade, Development

30 October 2009
GA/EF/3261

Working Out Differences at Doha Talks Would Be in Best Interest of All Countries, Pakistan Says, as Second Committee Concludes Debate on Trade, Development

30 October 2009
General Assembly
GA/EF/3261
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

Second Committee

26th Meeting (PM)

Working Out Differences at Doha Talks Would Be in Best Interest of All Countries,

Pakistan Says, as Second Committee Concludes Debate on Trade, Development

It was in the best interest of all countries that negotiators work out their differences over thorny issues at the Doha Trade Round and finally create a well-functioning trading system that would foster development worldwide, Pakistan’s representative told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) this afternoon as it concluded its consideration of international trade and development in the context of macroeconomic policy.

Calling for a time-framed work plan to finalize agriculture and non-agricultural market access measures by the end of 2009 or early 2010, he said that could be followed by an accord on services later, while work on other areas continued in tandem.  What was needed was already known to all: prosperity resulting from international trade should not be the domain of a select few, and some should not have a greater say in the process than others.  Everyone had an abiding interest in promoting a rules-based, open, equitable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system as well as an inclusive, participatory negotiation process that promoted development.

“What we need is a dynamic and vibrant Doha Development Round, not a new one,” he reiterated.  The inability of major trading nations to break the impasse so far had weakened the multilateral trading system and marginalized poor countries.  Furthermore, it had undermined the capacity of developing countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  The world must unleash the potential of trade to protect and promote economic growth and development during the current turbulent economic times.

Peru’s representative agreed, saying that international trade was still an important driver of economic growth.  Continued international trade flows were vital to maintaining income levels that enabled developing countries to confront the effects of the crisis.  But despite statements against protectionism emanating from the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh, many countries had adopted measures that restricted international trade.  That must change.  The economic crisis had especially affected middle-income countries such as Peru, which had developed a domestic trade and development strategy to strengthen liberalization and support small and medium-sized enterprisers and farmers.  That effort would benefit all members of society.

In a similar vein, Qatar’s representative said he was “shocked” by the freeze on the Doha negotiations, especially since many developing countries had had real hope that the talks would mean real progress in terms of services and access to markets.  Restrictions on the movement of persons and trade should be lifted and there must be a balance among the three pillars of development: economical, social and environmental.  It was to be hoped that all countries would show greater political will to resume the talks and that nations providing agricultural subsidies would eliminate them, since they created imbalances in the international trade system.

Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Syria, Malawi, Belarus, Iraq, Russian Federation, Cuba, Libya, Sudan, Australia and Venezuela.

The Committee will meet again on Monday, 2 November to begin its consideration of sustainable development.

Background

The Second Committee met this afternoon to continue its consideration of international trade and development.  (See Press Release GA/EF/3259 of 29 October.)

Introduction of Draft Resolution

NADIA OSMAN ( Sudan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced a draft resolution titled “External debt crisis and development” (document A/C.2/64/L.9).

Statements

OSAMA ALI (Syria) said that in the last few years, his country had enacted a number of national policy reforms to bring it into line with World Trade Organization rules, for instance with respect to property rights.  That was proof of Syria’s serious desire to become a member of the World Trade Organization.  Despite those measures, however, the country still met with difficulty when it came to membership because “certain countries” brought their influence to bear for political reasons.

Membership should not be politicized, he said, urging Member States to respect United Nations resolutions on international trade and development, especially the most recent resolution, which stressed the importance of developing countries becoming members of the World Trade Organization.  The persistence with which certain developed countries continued to impose unilateral measures was a violation of international trade law and had several negative consequences for the international trading system in that it exacerbated lack of trust, undermined the credibility of the system itself and rendered questionable the commitment of developed countries to a fair, transparent and open trading system.  Syria denounced the use of unilateral coercive economic measures by any State against another.

ASAD KHAN ( Pakistan), describing the avoidance of the kind of protectionism witnessed during the Great Depression as the one redeeming feature of the present global economic recession, called for continuing that trend.  The multilateral process should remain the most important means of engagement for members of the World Trade Organization.  Bilateral and multilateral tracks were important, but they should only push the overall process forward and help offer greater transparency, while understanding and appreciating each position.  However, they should not attempt to overtake the multilateral process.

“What we need is a dynamic and vibrant Doha Development Round, not a new one,” he said, adding that what needed to be done was already known to everyone.  The challenge was in agreeing on the “how” part of the equation.  A time-framed work plan was essential to finalizing agriculture and non-agricultural market access measures by year’s end or early 2010, followed by services later and for work on other areas to continue in tandem.  The development dimension of the Doha Round meant that prosperity resulting from international trade should not be the domain of a select few, and some should not have a greater say in the process than others.

Everyone had an abiding interest in promoting a well-functioning, rules-based, open, equitable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system and an inclusive, participatory negotiation process that promoted development, he said.  The inability of major trading nations to break the impasse so far had weakened the multilateral trading system and marginalized poor countries.  Furthermore, it had undermined the capacity of developing countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  The world must unleash the potential of trade to protect and promote economic growth and development during the current turbulent economic times.  Pakistan remained committed to successfully concluding the Doha Round.

STEVE MATENJE (Malawi), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Least Developed Countries and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said that over the past five years, his country’s renewed economic policies had led to lower inflation and higher gross domestic product.  However, Malawi had seen a decline in revenue from major exports, which had resulted in a trade imbalance.  Some of its agricultural commodities had also suffered from adverse terms of trade and climate change.

Malawi’s principle trade constraint was a narrow export threshold that limited its ability to exploit numerous global markets, he said.  That was exacerbated by high transportation costs incurred by the landlocked country, which weakened its ability to compete on the international market.  As a result, Malawi had been striving to expand and diversify its export capacities, partly by creating infrastructure within the SADC development framework and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).  It was to be hoped that implementing the Almaty Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries would make it possible for countries such as Malawi to access international trade.

He said globalization meant that least developed countries like his own had to be ushered along their path towards becoming part of the global economy.  Export trade was fundamental for economic growth and poverty reduction, a vision enshrined in Malawi’s Growth and Development Strategy.  Developed countries should step up aid for trade resources to help developing countries compete on the international market.  Malawi wanted a fair international economic and trading system that would allow long-lasting growth and development.  It also underscored UNCTAD’s role in ensuring that poor countries could withstand external shocks to trade.

DENIS ZDOROV ( Belarus) said some countries had been excluded from international economic activity and the global economic and financial crisis had substantially limited prospects for developing countries to reach the Millennium Development Goals.  Belarus supported free trade and urged Member States not to engage in protectionist trade and investment measures, especially since the victims of those measures were the most vulnerable -- developing and middle-income countries.  “We think it is wrong and it creates obstacles to free trade,” he added.

To counter the effects of the economic crisis, efforts should be made to develop sufficient energy resources that were not detrimental to the environment, he said.  The way to do that was by introducing green technology and through intergovernmental dialogue within the United Nations.  With respect to the financial crisis, the United Nations must take targeted actions to eliminate imbalances in the international financial system and make it possible for developing countries to achieve the Millennium targets.  Belarus welcomed the decision to increase the funds available to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) so it could provide more credit.

YASER AZIZ MOHAMED ( Iraq), stressing the need to reform the global financial and monetary architecture, said that financial, monetary and trade policies were not the same in all States.  Developing countries were subjected to unfair conditionality when trying to borrow from the World Bank and IMF.  They were also told that well-designed economic measures were a prerequisite for joining international organizations, but they lacked the technology to implement such measures.  It was necessary to create a financial and economic regulatory environment based on the principles of justice and transparency with regard to North-South relations, he said.

To create competitive markets, it was essential to devise new production methods and techniques, reduce production costs and use resources in the best possible way, he said.  The World Trade Organization should ensure a high degree of justice among various negotiating partners.  States that were not members should conclude bilateral trade agreements as they prepared to join.  Regional and bilateral agreements could play an important role in the multilateral trading system.  Globalization had created many opportunities, but its benefits had not been distributed equally.  In its current state, globalization was not based on balance and equity.  The global commercial regime must be reformed to facilitate achievement of the Millennium Goals.  It must be non-discriminatory and based on rights as well as the principles of openness, transparency and democracy.

ALEXANDER ALIMOV ( Russian Federation), pointing out that the global economic and financial crisis had undermined the ability of developing countries to attain the Millennium Goals, warned against creeping protectionism, which might seem inevitable but showed national selfishness.  Member States should refrain from escalating such protectionist measures and erecting gratuitous trade barriers.  To emerge from the crisis, it was important to invigorate trade flows and make real progress in terms of the Doha talks.

He said his country continued to negotiate its membership of the World Trade Organization even if the scenarios for joining had changed in recent months.  The Russian Federation remained fully committed to its application, though with full consideration of Russian national interests.  With regard to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Russian Federation supported the dialogue between developed and developing countries on increasing the potential for participation in trade by developing countries.

NADIESKA NAVARRO-BARRO ( Cuba) said no results had yet been finalized despite several years of discussions, in multiple forums, of the need to establish an equitable multilateral trading system.  The global economic crisis had exposed the urgent need to reform the world economic system, with figures on the impact of the crisis on trade showing “a bleak panorama”, particularly for developing countries.  It was assumed that a prompt conclusion of the Doha Round would be the most immediate solution, alongside the promised new commitment to World Trade Organization negotiations, but substantial changes had yet to be seen in the negotiating positions of major players.

Commitment to a successful Doha Round translated into reaching a balanced and equitable agreement on market access, with a view to enabling the entry of developing countries into world trade, she said.  Empty statements were not enough; it was essential to effectively face the various layers of protectionism applied by developed countries in the form of subsidies, non-tariff barriers, safeguards and other measures.  The World Bank projected the eventual gains from finalizing the Doha Round at $96 billion, of which only $16 billion would go to developing countries.

It was time that the content and fulfilment of the mandates undertaken in Doha came to fruition, she reiterated, adding that the World Trade Organization’s short-term response to the current crisis should include the adoption of a special safeguard mechanism to guarantee effective access for certain sensitive products, such as cotton and bananas, and allow net food-importing developing countries to access funding to import those goods.  Any future agreement should guarantee the necessary flexibility for developing countries to protect their agriculture, producers and their most vulnerable sectors so as to safeguard food security and sovereignty.

Mr. TAGURI ( Libya) said international trade was the global economic driving force.  It contributed to efforts in combating poverty, hunger and disease, and in promoting diversity of exports and production in various sectors.  But the global financial crisis had led to a contraction of demand, which had exacerbated the challenges facing many developing countries.  Under the current, unjust international trading system, they had not been able to export goods products to other markets due to the protectionist measures of some developed countries.

The UNCTAD report noted with concern that the benefits to Africa were weak and that the share of African countries in global trade had diminished recently.  There was an urgent need to find effective solutions in order to end the decline in preferential treatment for African goods.  Better regional cooperation and economic integration were also needed, as was a fair, more equitable trading system based on transparency.  There was also a need for a multilateral trading system that was fair, non-discriminatory and balanced, one that would facilitate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

He expressed hope that the Doha Round would be concluded successfully and that it would ensure flexibility, as called for in the 2001 Doha Ministerial Declaration, otherwise, the absence of which would encourage more protectionist measures.  Libya called for facilitating the World Trade Organization accession process.  Fair application of many World Trade Organization guidelines would help solve many economic problems.  Stronger South-South cooperation was important for promoting international trade.  He stressed the important role that UNCTAD was playing in addressing a wide range of trade and development issues.  Libya had taken steps to foster economic growth, such as granting concessionary loans to implement productive projects inside the country.  It had also opened markets to investment.

ANA CECILIA GERVASI (Peru) said that the economic crisis notwithstanding, international trade was still a driver of economic growth, and continued international trade flows were vital to maintaining income levels that enabled developing countries to confront the effects of the crisis.  Consequently, there was an urgent need for an opening of international markets and a real commitment to eliminating protectionism.

She said a successful conclusion to the Doha Round was also important and, despite statements against protectionism emanating from the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh, many countries had adopted measures that restricted international trade.  The economic crisis had especially affected middle-income countries such as Peru, which wished to reiterate the importance of open access to foreign markets.  Peru had developed a domestic development strategy to strengthen liberalization and support small and medium-size enterprisers and farmers, an effort that would benefit all members of society.

NASSIR AL-NASSER ( Qatar) called for the lifting of restrictions on the movement of persons and trade, and stressed the need for a balance among the three pillars of development: economic, social and environmental.  Qatar was “shocked” by the stalling of the Doha negotiations, especially since many developing countries had had real hope that the talks would mean real progress in terms of services and access to markets.

Qatar wished to see all countries demonstrate greater political will for the resumption of the negotiations, he said, outlining some of the priorities for resuming the talks.  They included practical measures to create open, transparent and democratic multilateral processes.  Furthermore, it was important to provide special assistance to developing countries in terms of capacity-building.  With respect to agriculture, it was vital to eliminate the subsidies that created imbalances in the international trade system.  He praised UNCTAD for its work on that and other issues.

PAUL NEVILLE ( Australia) said his country was committed to ensuring that everyone got their fair share of economic development, citing trade liberalization through the World Trade Organization as one of the best ways of attaining that goal.  Trade reform could give developing countries a fair deal while fostering long-lasting developing and eradicating poverty.  In light of the global financial crisis, he said the stalled Doha Round of talks were far too vital to be abandoned, since trade had after all been recognized as an economic stimulus.  Failure to wrap up the Round would be a major blow to development, agricultural trade reform and multilateral trade, he warned.

A smooth sailing global trade system was vital to lifting millions of people out of poverty, he said, expressing regret that developing countries were still gridlocked by high market subsidies and sizeable market-access restrictions, which limited their ability to participate in global agricultural trade and emerge from poverty.  Australia’s aid programme recognized the strong link between trade reform and economic development, with its Aid for Trade contribution having culminated in $400 million in 2009-10.  Its annual contributions to World Trade Organization trust funds had doubled, to help poor countries reap the benefits of the international trading system.

Citing the Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting in Bali as one political initiative to kick-start the stalled Doha Round, he called for the political will to turn it into action in Geneva, in the lead-up to the Seventh World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference at the end of 2009.  Australia also called for talks to focus on narrowing gaps in agriculture.  As a member of the Cairns Group, Australia was convinced that numerous barriers to trade would only serve to block the contribution of agricultural to economic development, thus plunging developing countries into further poverty.  As talks came to an end, Australia was still determined to find solutions that would benefit developing countries, and hoped all parties would do their part to ensure they delivered the Round’s development promise.

VICTOR OVALLES-SANTOS ( Venezuela) lamented the lack of political will on the part of developed countries to make the global international architecture more fair, balanced and conducive to development.  Venezuela called for a more critical opinion of the processes under way, and for special and differential treatment for goods from developing countries so that international trade could truly become an instrument for development.  A globalised model based on a complete liberalization of trade was being imposed without any care for symmetries in developing countries.  It was a model designed to create a level playing field, but took no account of structural differences.

He said that for years his country had advocated for a fair, equitable trading system.  Venezuela was against the introduction and imposition of measures that limited imports and harmed the economies of developing countries.  Venezuela had been actively participating in the Doha Round since 2001 and supported UNCTAD as the multilateral agency that had improved the lot of developing countries.  It had helped to boost training for entrepreneurs.  The voice of developing countries must be heard and sensitive issues of development addressed.  The principles of cooperation and solidarity must be applied as they could contribute to the creation of a transparent trading system that would result in equality for all.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.