Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
Permanent Representative of
the State of Qatar
to the United Nations
Chairman of the
Group of 77 in New York
Doha , 6 December 2004
It gives me great pleasure to present to this Plenary the results of our fruitful discussions in the two workshops focusing on trade and investment. As you recall, one of the objective of this Forum was to identify key issues, draw conclusions and define possible recommendations in these two areas, which are so important for development and for attaining Millennium Development Goals, particularly to halve poverty by the year 2015. The stated objective was to come out, to the greatest extent possible, with action-oriented conclusions and recommendations that will serve as a substantive contribution to the preparations of the South Summit to be held in Doha, Qatar in 2005.
Outcome of the Workshop on Trade
The Workshop on Trade discussed and resolved to implement strategic actions to consolidate, strengthen and deepen South-South trade. It was considered that galvanizing South-South trade was timely against the backdrop of a new geography of trade and economic relations in which the South is making important contributions.
Highly motivating, forward-looking and practical presentations were made by a number of eminent panelists. Their presentations were followed by rich and in-depth debate.
Three interconnecting issues were addressed, namely (1) strengthening developing countries’ capacity for trade negotiations, (2) networking among regional integration groupings, and (3) enhancing South-South cooperation and trade, especially in commodities.
The following conclusions and recommendations were highlighted by the participants:
- Trade policy is a key instrument available to developing countries in
promoting development. It must be used strategically in the context of
liberalization in the South-South trade and at the multilateral level.
South-South consultations and exchanges of experiences on these issues
should be reinforced. This could be one element of contributing to the
implementation of the MDGs. In this context, the development issue should
be placed in the top of the UN agenda.
- Development of necessary capacities
to negotiate trade agreements, to comply with and implement them, and
to take advantage of them through increased production, competitiveness
and exports in manufactures, commodities and services. Central to trade
negotiations is the need to promote a development-friendly system of rules
and opportunities, especially at the multilateral level in the current
Doha round of negotiations under the WTO and factor in the cost of implementation.
important is the need for sustained solidarity and partnerships, including
on accession to the WTO, which need to be made more equitable and just,
reflecting the development status of developing countries and without
political conditionalities. Any unilateral coercive measures by developed
countries that militate against the trade and development interests of
developing countries should be opposed by developing countries. Appropriate
consultative South-South mechanisms to foster cooperation on these issues
need to be put in place.
- Addressing process related issues in trade negotiations,
especially at the multilateral level, to bring about greater transparency
and inclusiveness in decision-making, is also important. This has and
continues to be a collective agenda of the South, in seeking better access
and better terms of engagement.
- Essential aspects of capacity building
include multi-stakeholder consultations at the national level. It also
includes investment into human development, as a means of promoting trade
and development, as well as peace and stability.
- South-South trade in
commodities, including in strategic resources, is poised for a change.
Transforming the commodity problematique into an engine for development
will need enhanced market access and entry conditions, improved cooperation
and capacities of national enterprises, regional cooperation, and trade
financing. An Action Group on South-South Commodities’ trade
in the context of the International Task Force on Commodities could be
- Strengthening regional trade and integration agreements of the
South requires proper pacing and sequencing of internal and external
liberalization. Key issue for developing countries involved in North-South
arrangements is cooperation in ensuring a development interface between
these arrangements and the multilateral trading system. A network of
integration agreements can be constituted to foster exchanges of experiences
and information among different groups and regions. Also, initiatives
such as the Asia-Africa Sub-regional Organization (AASROC) could serve
as examples of South-South cooperation.
- Inter-regional trade has an
important potential that remains to be fully realized. The scope to do
so has improved substantially. The Global System of Trade Preferences
among Developing Countries (GSTP) is a key instrument that can bring new
dynamism to such trade and thus developing countries need to actively participate
in the third round of negotiations that has been launched so as to make
a significant impact on South-South trade.
- Exploiting complementarities
in South-South services trade can offer important trade and investment
opportunities. Actions need to be taken to build up South-South trade
in services through closer cooperation at the bilateral, regional and interregional
levels in services sectors with high growth potential, including on the
movement of natural persons.
- Trade infrastructure and trade facilitating
measures are necessary for export competitiveness and for reducing transaction
costs on trade of developing countries. There is need to invest into
improving infrastructure facilities and network among developing countries,
to reduce the cost of doing business, and to enhance trade facilitating
- Capacity building is important in developing and strengthening
institutions that can help countries meet international technical standards
and sanitary and phytosanitary measures for manufactures and agricultural
products. Developing mutual recognition agreements on standards is also
needed to facilitate trade. Support should be provided to the Consultative
Task Force on Environmental Requirements and Market Access for Developing
- The Network of export-import banks of the South just launched
at UNCTAD XI to provide financing needs of South-South trade should be
supported and consolidated.
- Developing countries should seek representation
at the Bank of International Settlements through the creation of an "Emerging Markets Committee" so
their interests are considered and take into account in the setting of
international banking and financial standards.
- The debt trap in which
many developing countries are caught has obliged them to use limited
resources to finance debt re-payments and this, in turn, prevents them
from financing trade, production, infrastructure and capacity building
activities for development. The situation has been aggravated by the
failure of OCED countries to meet the target set of extending 0.7 per
cent of their GDP as development assistance. The international community
should urgently meet this commitment, make available needed financial
resources for development, and promote durable solutions to addressing
the external indebtedness of developing countries including debt cancellation.
Work on trade, debt and finance in the WTO launched at Doha should also
- Technical cooperation among developing countries (TCDC) should
be enhanced through tripartite mechanism involving donor countries or
regional financial institutions, in promoting South-South cooperation.
North remains an important partner for developing countries. It needs
to adopt policies and measures to facilitate South-South trade and trade
generally of developing countries. These include improving market access
conditions, removing market entry barriers, avoiding trading distorting
practices such as in agriculture, and providing additional trade and development
- The G77 is an important forum for follow-up on South-South cooperation. It must continue to consolidate its solidarity and cohesiveness in trade and trade negotiations. It should consider conducting an annual review of practical initiatives in promoting South-South trade to take stock of progress and provide continued follow-up to decisions taken. UNCTAD is a key partner of the G77. It should increase support for the G77 in promoting South-South trade on a more sustained basis, including in conducting annual reviews on follow-up to recommendations adopted. Other relevant international organizations such as UNDP could also contribute in supporting economic cooperation among developing countries. The important contribution of IFAD in the area of rural and agricultural development as well as its efforts to enhance small holder farmers to have better access to markets was recognized. Support should also be provided to the South Centre that is in a position to make valuable contribution to the capacity building of developing countries in trade negotiations.
Outcome of the Workshop on Investment
The forum addressed the issue of investment with special focus on South-South investment flows. It was noted that the growing importance of the South in the global economy is not confined to trade relations only but covers investment as well. In terms of global investment flows, the share of outward investment from developing countries may not appear large but the emerging trend is clear and encouraging. There has been dramatic increase in outward investment from developing countries in recent years most of it going to other developing countries.
This morning, we were also informed about the important role played by investment promotion agencies (IPAs) in attracting investment and the challenges that IPAs in developing countries face in undertaking promotional activities. The discussion this morning also highlighted the possible impact of FDI and the role of policies in enhancing the positive impacts of FDI. In order to continue to strengthen the new and positive trend in South-South investment flows, developing countries need to strengthen their cooperation including through bilateral and regional investment agreements.
A wide range of specific issues were raised in the course of the discussion but I wish to draw your attention to a few that have emerged as critical. These include:
- The need for better understanding of the scale, potential and opportunities
for outward investment from developing countries, in particular South-South
- Increasing opportunities for South-South international investment
policy setting, more specifically through bilateral and regional agreements,
and for exchange of views and the sharing of experiences, including from
existing regional investment agreements in the South, and in areas such
as corporate developmental responsibility.
- Explore ways in which the
risks and constraints associated with outward investment among developing
countries, in particular investment flows to the least developed countries,
from other developing countries can be mitigated.
- Enhancing capacity-building
activities through regional training workshops on best practices in investment
policy framework and investment promotion and targeting and by strengthening
investment promotion agencies. In this respect, LDCs require special
- Conduct investment policy analyses with a view to identifying
and developing policy options and regulatory framework appropriate to
attracting FDI and benefiting from it, especially in the South-South context.
- The importance of not only attracting but also benefiting from FDI,
including through the development of linkages between foreign affiliates
and domestic firms with the view to strengthening domestic enterprise sector.
- The development of common denominators in international investment rule
making that are development-friendly and that could be as models for
bilateral and regional investment negotiations.
- The need to improve on
the capacity to collect and analyze statistics on investment flows.
related to investment that require special attention include corporate
governance, accounting standards, the development of capital markets
and the implications of and the active involvement of developing countries
in Basel II.
- Promoting transfer of technology among developing countries as well as strengthening coordination among them in the area of transfer of technology and intellectual property rights within the context of the WTO and WIPO agreements. In this context, the Forum support the role being played by some Southern institutions dealing with science and technology, specially the Third World Academy of Sciences ( Trieste)
- The Forum highlighted the importance of UNDP initiative to establish
a regional centre on e-Government and e-Governance in Qatar that will serve
as a knowledge centre.
- The Forum stressed the importance of the role of the Special
Unit for South-South Cooperation as the focal point within the UN system
for South-South Cooperation and requested the Unit to take steps to develop
general guidelines on intra-South private sector collaboration, and facilitate
the establishment of economically viable public-private partnership and
market-driven mechanisms to accelerate exchange of business collaboration,
joint venture and technology exchange opportunities among the developing
countries. In this context, it requests the Special Unit to undertake
the publishing of the first edition of the report on South-South Cooperation
on the occasion of the Second South Summit as decided by the first South
Summit in Havana.
- The Forum acknowledges the increasing emphasis placed
by UNDP in the implementation of the MDGs, especially on poverty eradication
and development issues.
- The Forum acknowledges the importance of IFAD
in the area of rural and agricultural development as well as its efforts
to enhance small holders agriculture and farmers access to markets.
Forum stresses the importance of the South-South project on Intellectual
Property Rights and Access to HIV/AIDS and malaria Drugs.
- The Forum acknowledges
the valuable contribution made by UN relevant institutions through the
research and policy analysis on key development issues, including trade
- The Forum, on the light of the substantive preparations for the Second South Summit, invites the troika of the Group of 77 to consider the best modalities for the implementation and follow up of the Forum's recommendations.
These are just the most salient features arising from our discussions. For the purpose of my report to the Plenary I had no choice but to be as selective as possible. Our colleagues and friends from the UNCTAD secretariat will produce a more extensive report covering in greater details the richness of our debate.