Statement by H.E. Marjatta Rasi,
President of the Economic and Social Council, at the High-level Forum on Trade and Investment (Doha, 5 December 2005)

Mr. Chairman,
Excellencies and
Distinguished Delegates,

I am honoured to have this opportunity to address the Doha high-level Forum on Trade and Investment. May I take this opportunity to thank the Government of the State of Qatar for the excellent arrangements made for the meeting and for gracious hospitality. I would also like to congratulate Qatar on providing effective and visionary leadership to the Group of 77 during this year.

Developing countries face enormous development challenges in this increasingly interdependent world. We know and acknowledge the Group of 77 as a powerful partner and its leadership role at the United Nations. Forty years after its creation it continues to occupy its central place in the global development dialogue.

The recent Ministerial Conference of the UNCTAD reviewed in depth – as reflected in the São Paulo Consensus – many critical questions of trade and development and interrelated issues of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development. Development concerns in trade policies and building capacities were highlighted. And it was recognized how important partnerships for development have become. Regional integration and other aspects of South-South cooperation are considered to benefit developing countries.

Trade and investment initiatives between countries from the South are not an alternative to the North-South flows. The importance of North-South cooperation in this globalizing world cannot be overemphasized. Developed countries can be instrumental in facilitating South-South cooperation through appropriate trade, aid, financial, monetary, technology transfer and development policies and actions. I also wish to recall the importance of the multilateral trading system, for both South-South and North-South trade, and in particular the WTO Doha Work Programme, which was launched right here in Qatar three years ago. The agenda of trade liberalization and rule making agreed to by all WTO members place the needs and interests at its heart and aims to bring economic growth and development for all.

The Millennium Summit, celebrated in 2000 at the United Nations Headquarters, was a culmination of those major UN Conferences that really constructed a new development agenda. Its adoption provided a comprehensive framework for the work of the United Nations. In September 2005 we will together make an assessment of the implementation of the Millennium Declaration as a whole. It is expected to put strong emphasis on the continued global dialogue on development.

Central to this development dialogue is the realization of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. One of the primary requirements for achieving the goals in the fight against poverty is sustained economic growth and mobilizing additional resources. Trade and investment are paramount factors in accelerating growth. Thus the Forum’s focus on ways to strengthen cooperation in the field of trade and investment among the nations of the South is very timely.

In this meeting, its topic being trade and investment, we may remind ourselves of the commitments of the Monterrey Consensus in 2002. The Monterrey agenda addresses the issues of trade and investment as crucial parts of mobilizing development resources. Since the Monterrey conference, the international dialogue has no doubt been broadened in the common understanding of the new partnerships required to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals.

The Johannesburg Summit emphasized the same principles underlining the wider challenges of sustainable development. Concrete actions have been initiated and new partnerships have been built as a result of these high-level political commitments. The United Nations discussions have keenly followed the progress of the work in the other multilateral bodies to implement the agreed goals and commitments.

I would like to recall the Declaration of the Twenty-eighth Annual Ministerial Meeting of the G-77 in which the Ministers reiterated that “South-South cooperation is an imperative to complement North-South cooperation in order to contribute to the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs.” South-South cooperation can greatly contribute to meeting the Millennium Development Goals by drawing on the resources and expertise existing in the South, particularly in the countries that have made progress towards the achievement of the development goals. Yet, a large majority is still far from realizing these goals.

While countries from the South have made some progress in achieving these goals, for many they still remain elusive. In some cases, the very lack of development has contributed to political disintegration, instability and sometimes open social conflicts. These conditions cause additional drains on resources and constitute a serious disincentive for investment. Developing countries in conflict, or emerging from one, face specific challenges to change the nature of their integration in the global economy.

Mr. Chairman,

The challenges of pursuing development goals are manifold. I believe that Economic and Social Council provides a unique and perhaps the only forum of its kind for a dialogue on promoting such engagement among countries from the South as well as North-South cooperation.

Over the last few years, the Council has made strides in promoting an inclusive and integrated approach to the achievement of the development agenda. This has been achieved largely by bringing together stakeholders at one forum to address the development challenges of our time, by promoting integrated and coordinated implementation of the outcomes of the UN conferences and summits and by pursuing a comprehensive approach to the issues of peace and development.

The Economic and Social Council conducts high-level debates in its annual substantive session segment on chosen development themes. In the current year the focus was on the resources mobilization and enabling environment of the least developed countries, following up the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action. The role of trade as well as investments were considered in this context and a special investment forum took place.

I would like to refer to another annual ECOSOC event, which is traditionally organized in collaboration with the Bretton Woods Institutions and the World Trade Organization in Spring. I am glad to note that the Trade and Development Board of UNCTAD has become an active member in that dialogue – and UNCTAD makes regular contributions to many parts of the ECOSOC work programme. The ECOSOC spring meeting 2004, while addressing the coherence, coordination and cooperation in the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, dedicated one of the round-tables to the theme of trade and investments and their impact on financing for development. What is unique in the ECOSOC setting is the open exchange between the key stakeholders, including the civil society and private sector representatives.

We must rebuild the momentum generated by the Millennium Summit. Next year the Council will be fully involved in the preparatory process for the Major Event, the General Assembly High-level plenary meeting on the review of the implementation of the Millennium Declaration. ECOSOC will devote both its high-level and coordination segments in July 2005 to review progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. We are confident that this will contribute to the efforts to galvanize support for the realization of these goals.

As President of ECOSOC, I strongly believe that developing countries should use this forum to its fullest potential. No doubt, the Group of 77 is determined to provide leadership on the development dialogue and how the Council fulfils its desired role, including in promoting synergies between South-South cooperation and the North-South collaboration.

The National Economic and Social Councils that have been created in several countries from the South could also prove to be effective forms for local dialogue and to expand South-South links among the civil society and the private sector.

Mr. Chairman,

I wish to thank you and the Government of the State of Qatar, representing the Group of 77 for this occasion to explore together the common ground that will further strengthen the Economic and Social Council through the active contributions of its member states.

Thank you.