(Geneva, 15 March 2010)

Mr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD
H.E. Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand,
Mr. Martin Khor, Executive Director of the South Centre,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before I say the speech this act deserves, I want to express to the distinguished delegations of Chile and Uganda, and I am sure that all the members of the G77 and China share this feeling, our heartfelt condolences and solidarity for the deaths caused by the violent earthquake of last February 27, and the landslides in the region of Bududa, in Uganda.

I would first of all like to thank and to pay tribute to Ambassador Sihasak for so enthusiastically chairing the G77 over a very difficult year. And I want to extend the gratitude to his team, which was always precise, flexible and dynamic.

His leadership is worthy of all our appreciation and commitment.

I also want to thank Mr. Supachai and Mr. Khor for his remarks. We should realize that the relationship between the Group and UNCTAD has been significant at all times, but in the present circumstances it becomes critical. In this regard, I would like to point out the importance of strengthening our partnership. We know the road to development is too large and difficult, that is why we shall always need the UNCTAD's support. However, at the same time, we need to walk by ourselves. We want to see in the near horizon new and greater level of development in all our countries. That represents new and higher challenges to UNCTAD.

Cuba receives the coordination in a very important year. We shall evaluate the implementation of the Accra Accord in September. We have to do an effective and objective assessment through the full and focused participation of the Group. In order to guarantee the implementation of the outcomes of UNCTAD XII, it is an imperative to effectively address the needs of all our members.

In a very diverse group like the G 77 and China, general and regional coordinations have an extremely important role to play. The participation of each member is essential, not only to successfully face this exercise of evaluating the outcomes of the Accra Conference, but more important to consolidate our strong coalition, to enhance its image and to increase its influential power.

Promoting the interests of developing countries shall be our permanent priority. I am fully confident that the G 77 and China, with its experience, diversity, and unity, will carry on its important mandate of promoting the economic interests of the developing world.

Most of developing countries, including my own, are unable to benefit from globalization in the way it is carrying out and in the manner our development needs require. Globalization and trade liberalization have to be accompanied by a pro-development government intervention and domestic regulations that preserve natural resources and opportunities for nationals as a major asset of our development. Policy space is not a slogan, it is a necessity, even when someone tries to downplay.

The financial and economic crisis has demanded and calls today for our main attention and response. At the same time, we cannot forget that there are many old and critical pending challenges in the poor part of the planet. We are not supposed to confuse the rich nations' agenda with ours.

In this important year for development, culminating in the Third South Summit, the Group of 77 and China should refine its thinking and vision and develop a more clearly articulated agenda and philosophy for development. For this purpose, we have the privilege to count with the UNCTAD's intellectual resources.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We must seize each opportunity to shape the global economic system in accordance with the interests of our countries and their peoples. The G77 members have a vital role to play in this process.

The final purpose of our countries in the context of economic international scenarios is to achieve an equitable system. This battle is sometimes forgotten, while trying to get short term objectives.

Developing world is a system, very strongly interconnected. The concepts of policy space or the role of the State - crucial for our development -, should be preserved by taking into account that one action in a far place has important consequences on the rest of the system.

UNCTAD is part of the UN, organization responsible, inter alia, for peace and security all around the world. But without eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development and sustained economic growth for all, our planet will never be a peaceful and secure place.

The millennium development goals will not be attained. The main priority of the role of Cuba in the coordination of the G77 and China will be to enhance its unity and capacity to act with the objective of overcoming the obstacles and providing responses to the causes of that unacceptable failure.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have to develop strategies for our actions, to unite our forces. We should think about the possibility and the need to enhance the impact of our work in other forums related to development in Geneva. It is not an easy task, but we have to try.

Cuba is ready to work with all of you, and we are sure the Secretariat is ready to work with us.

Finally, I must say thank you, thank you for the confidence you have placed in my country. We shall do the maximum efforts to respond to your expectations and needs.

I reiterate my appreciation to all of you.

Thank you very much.