Mr. Chairman, Honourable Ministers and Heads of Delegation, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen
I take great pleasure in addressing this thirteenth Ministerial Conference of UNCTAD. I wish to thank the Government and people of Qatar for the warmth and hospitality extended to me and my delegation. I would also like to thank the Secretary General of UNCTAD, Dr. Supachai, and the staff of UNCTAD for their tireless efforts in organizing this timely Conference under the theme, “Development-centred globalisation: towards inclusive and sustainable growth and development”. This is a thought provoking theme at a time when the global recession is causing both developed and developing countries to reconsider certain aspects of globalization and its impact on national economic growth and development.
It is, indeed, fortuitous that we are meeting in Doha, over 10 years after the launch of the WTO Doha Development Round. The DDA mandate sought to provide some reassurance by placing development at the centre of the Round. Regrettably, the Doha Round has fallen far short of expectations failing, so far, to achieve the delicate balance between trade liberalization and development.
The Doha Development Round should enable us to unleash our comparative advantage in export trade in services and higher value-added manufactured goods. This dream can only be achieved, if we successfully integrate trade and development by not deviating from the Round’s development mandate.
With weakened confidence in the multilateral trade governance, we now have the prevailing situation of the frantic negotiation of a plethora of bilateral trade agreements which are costly, time consuming and involve WTO-plus commitments for developing countries. If developing countries do not have the productive capacity, they will be unable to benefit from the market access secured through elimination of customs duties. Indeed oftentimes, various creative non-tariff measures remain. It is a concern that development is now being seen mainly in the context of market access. For Jamaica, emphasis has to be on developing the national and regional productive capacity, and strengthening our infrastructure to be able to compete and effectively participate in the global trading system.
This meeting, therefore, enables us to emphasize the critical link between trade and development,and to call for greater urgency, cooperation and strategic thinking in the governance of our global economic affairs.
As I reflect on the state of the global economy, it is clear that many persistent challenges remain, such as poverty, hunger, unemployment and inequity. Indeed, countries such as mine continue to be hamstrung by inherent structural problems and capacity constraints, which are a deterrent to achieving meaningful gains from trade, and, by extension, increased economic growth and development. This is compounded by the volatility of commodity prices including critically, the cost of energy, the threats posed by natural disasters, the negative effects of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. In our search for solutions to these challenges, we must place high priority on job creation.
Jamaicah as adopted a long term National Development Plan, Vision 2030-Jamaica, which provides a solid platform for sustainable growth and development. We are in the process of revising our national trade policy to ensure that trade is mainstreamed into our National Development Plan. Through this exercise, we truly recognise that trade as a development tool requires a “whole of government” approach to its implementation.
Jamaicais committed to the broad principles on which our global community of sovereign states have been built, since the inception of the United Nations. This includes a healthy respect for our development aspirations, peace and security and respect for human rights, including the empowerment of women and the youth. We must, therefore, place greater emphasis on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as other internationally agreed development goals. Of, course, measures should not be implemented at the international and domestic levels by more advanced countries which cause other struggling developing economies to slip back into poverty, thus, declining further on the Human Development and Competitive Indices.
The recent global crises have also thrown into sharp focus the need for a careful re-examination of the way in which the global economic system is managed. This requires that we dispense with the business as usual approach in every forum where this could lead to political, ideological and economic stagnation. Jamaica, therefore, calls upon the international community to expedite the reform of the international financial architecture, whilst ensuring the greater inclusion of developing countries in the management of the Bretton Woods institutions given their increasing role in the stability and viability of this system.
It is for these and other reasons, Mr. Chairman, that Jamaica is a firm supporter of UNCTAD. Jamaica applauds the ongoing efforts of UNCTAD to enhance all forms of cooperation, provide timely technical assistance, capacity building and training to developing countries, as well as to facilitate the sharing of best practices on key issues on the international agenda. Jamaica remains resolute in the belief that UNCTAD, through its integrated approach to trade and development, has an indispensable role in the execution of our collective development vision.
UNCTAD must remain as the focal point of the United Nations for the treatment of trade and development and its attendant issues, such as investment and sustainable development. Its role should be strengthened through more effective multilateral cooperation achieved by augmenting traditional North-South cooperation mechanisms; and enhancing South-South and triangular cooperation. I must emphasize here, the need for all cooperation initiatives to be demand driven, inclusive, transparent and based on equitable partnerships. This will ensure greater ownership over their implementation and improved responsiveness to the specific needs of developing countries.
In this regard, UNCTAD should also seek to enhance and expand its work on countries with special needs, such as, small, open, highly indebted, middle income countries.
In seeking to achieve development linked-globalization, UNCTAD will need to be better supported if it is to continue to execute its mandate and to provide policy research and analysis on important topical issues affecting developing countries. It is Jamaica’s firm belief that UNCTAD must also contribute to the international policy discourse on issues of critical importance such as development financing and economic diversification and transformation.
In this, Jamaica’s fiftieth year of independence, we have begun to evaluate our achievements and setbacks, taking stock of what remains to be done to fulfil the development aspirations of our founding fathers. In another two years, UNCTAD will also be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, and we believe that the time is now ripe for us to examine our collective contribution to fulfilling the broad mandate of this institution. We all need to redouble our efforts, so that our shared goal of economic growth, sustainable development and prosperity for all mankind, may be realized.
I thank you Mr. Chairman.