(Geneva, 30 April 2015)

Madam President,
Mr. Deputy Secretary General,

1. At the outset allow me to express my group's appreciation for having convened this meeting after providing us with additional time to better continue our important work on the theme and sub-themes. You have afforded us all a genuine opportunity to begin the substantive preparatory process for UNCTAD XIV in the best possible way.

2. Allow me also to thank Dr. Kituyi for the proposed theme and sub-themes that he presented to us. The conversations that you, Madam President, and Dr. Kituyi held with the ambassadors of the member countries were useful and fruitful and certainly catalyzed our preparations. The proposals tabled by Dr. Kituyi we believe reflect the wide diversity of ideas presented and reflect in our view the genuine desire of all for a successful and historic UNCTAD XIV.

3. The Group of 77 and China has taken this positive spirit as its point of departure, and the sterling work of the President of the Board and the Secretary-General as the basis for its reflections on the next steps of our work. Allow me therefore, Madam President, to begin with the Group's ideas with regard to UNCTAD XIV. I will then share with you our specific comments on the theme and sub-themes. I will conclude with some observations on our next steps.

Madam President,

4. We have all consistently underscored the importance of UNCTAD. We have steadfastly maintained throughout the half century of our common existence that the quadrennial conference is one that focuses on the key development challenges of the time, and proceeds to consider how trade and the inter-related issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment, and sustainable development can be deployed to bring true development to the peoples of the world to realize prosperity for all. It is after that conversation that we then go into UNCTAD's contribution.

5. The quadrennial conference is therefore by its very nature an outward-looking exercise that examines the full breadth of the development problematique, from the trade and development perspective. In this, the quadrennial conference also brings to bear UNCTAD's special role and mandate to provide the alternative view and to challenge conventional wisdom.

6. Indeed the Secretary-General's proposal is a good basis for work as in the ever changing global landscape we must have an organization that warns us of incoming danger and of the rocks that lie beneath the surface of what appear to be calm seas.

7. UNCTAD is part of the landscape that is the United Nations and the global development discourse. UNCTAD XIV must therefore take into account the result of the broader processes underway, such as FfD and post-2015, and contribute to the realization of their outcomes, but it should not be defined or limited by these processes.

8. Indeed we seek to revisit the recent trend to effectively restrict UNCTAD's existing mandate. UNCTAD has very strong mandates and excellent mechanisms, including its key pillar to build consensus on key trade and development issues.

9. Yet the discharge and fulfillment of UNCTAD's mandate is severely constrained by the lack of discussion and agreement on truly substantive issues. I need not repeat the details of the unnecessary controversy on whether or not to have agreed conclusions at the recently concluded Investment, Enterprise, and Development Commission. The mere idea of not having a negotiated outcome to such an important intergovernmental meeting would be inconceivable to our partners in the Human Rights Council.

10. The revitalization of UNCTAD will therefore only be fully effective if all member States commit to harness the political will to engage meaningfully on the substantive issues and fully use the mechanisms and structures that we already have. We therefore view UNCTAD XIV as an opportunity to consolidate, strengthen and revitalize UNCTAD's mandate as the focal point in the United Nations for the integrated treatment of trade and development and inter-related issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development. We also need to ensure that the existing intergovernmental machinery will be used in the manner in which it was intended and designed for.

Madam President,

11. The Group of 77 and China therefore embraces the substance of the Secretary-General's proposal for a theme that is broad and ensures the fulfillment of UNCTAD's mandate. Our proposed refinement of the theme, "Enhancing the global economic and trading system: to achieve equitable, inclusive and sustainable development" is fully in line with Dr. Kituyi's proposal and goes back to the transformative nature of UNCTAD and the ambitions of UNCTAD I and of the post-2015 development agenda. Let me underscore the key messages emanating from New York that the post-2015 development agenda should be a transformative one.

12. Our proposed formulation for the theme is balanced in substance and orientation. It is systemic in nature highlighting what we all already know - that the global economic and financial crisis revealed the fundamental flaws in the global economic system and the urgency of reforming it to ensure that humanity will never again suffer the cost of a similar financial crash.

13. Indeed our proposal is also global in scope. The emergence of a situation in some countries of the North analogous to long standing realities in the South is cause for alarm and is nothing less than a validation of the struggle of developing countries for half a century to realize a global economic and trading system based on contemporary realities, needs, and priorities. Indeed the global economic and financial crises revealed the growing and unacceptable inequality, and broadened the base of the poor and marginalized to beyond the confines of what was once the almost exclusive province of the global South.

14. Yet the theme is not only systemic in nature - it also underscores the importance of translating these systemic advances to action on the ground. The explicit link to promoting equitable and inclusive sustainable development very quickly brings us down to earth and to the reality that we are not working for abstractions but for tangible benefits for humanity.

15. The architecture of the theme and sub-themes is therefore of a broad, forward looking, and transformative theme that proceeds to sub-themes in descending order of magnitude, proceeding from the very macro to the very micro, which elaborate on how the aspirations of the theme are to be realized.

16. Consequently, Sub-theme 1, "Addressing persistent and emerging global economic development challenges through strengthening multilateralism" presents the space for a discussion on the broad issues of the trade and development problematique, and how to mobilize multilateralism and the political will to reduce poverty and inequality. This is especially crucial in today's environment of multilateralism in crisis. We hope, indeed, that this sub-theme will contribute to revitalizing multilateralism and the mobilization of political will through positive results on the road to Lima, and beyond.

17. We therefore envision that discussions under this sub-theme will include some of the pressing issues of today including addressing the alarming degree of inequality and lack of social inclusion, advancing sovereign debt restructuring processes, governance of the financial system and policies of monitoring and achieving debt sustainability for the most vulnerable, and ensuring that new trends and models regarding international investment agreements are consistent with the global commitment to place development at the core of the global economic system. The role of international institutions must also be reexamined to see what they can do to support development of countries, especially the most vulnerable.

18. Sub-theme 2 "Strengthening the integrated and holistic approach to trade, investment, finance and technology to promote development" should then proceed from the broad challenges to the key areas of UNCTAD's work. This sub-theme should focus on synergies and consistency of results. For instance, UNCTAD's work on the interface between digital economies and international trade should be strengthened, to explore its implications and how it can assist developing countries. We underscore the danger of complementarity being equated with redundancy, and with genuine debate being vilified as subversion.

19. Many issues under discussion in UNCTAD are also discussed elsewhere, as are issues resident elsewhere discussed within UNCTAD. Yet it is important to remember that genuine intellectual discourse is multifaceted, and real problem solving is based on a plethora of alternatives and not on a preponderance of agreement. Indeed intellectual progress is made when ideas are truly put to the test.

20. Sub-theme 3 takes us further closer to the field and addresses the various ways and means that countries can be further empowered to fully participate in the global economic system. "Advancing structural transformation, strengthening productive capacity, and building resilience of economies to deal with development challenges at all levels" are crucial to developing countries especially if they are to accomplish their development objectives.

21. Development is about empowerment. Capacity building is therefore of crucial importance coupled with building the necessary resilience, especially in vulnerable states. Empowerment also requires that developing countries have the necessary policy space for the pursuit and implementation of development strategies consistent with their national policy needs and priorities. Likewise, maintaining and advancing an open world economy, harnessing regional cooperation and cross-regional collaboration, and fostering an enabling international environment for development, are of equal importance.

22. The final sub-theme links the accomplishment of UNCTAD's mandate to the broader global development discourse and action. "Contributing to the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda and outcomes of other relevant global conferences to realize prosperity for all" explicitly highlights the mandate and need for UNCTAD to contribute to the broader global effort and invokes the mandate of UNCTAD encapsulated in the phrase "Prosperity for All."

23. We wish to underscore that we agree with the Secretary General that UNCTAD must be fit for purpose. Yet as I have implied, in principle it already is. What has been lacking is the complete implementation of UNCTAD's mandate, and our doing justice to the intergovernmental machinery.

24. I will therefore conclude my remarks by underscoring the importance of clarity. We have been clear on our objectives, we have been clear on our aspirations, and we have been clear on our expectations. Now I wish to be clear on the modalities.

Madam President,

25. We are of course open to considering whatever modalities and calendar you may propose on this phase of work. Yet in considering the proposals before us on how to reach agreement on the theme and sub-themes, the Group of 77 and China underscores the following principles.

26. First, from this point on the process must be open, transparent, and inclusive. It is important for the various perspectives to be taken into account, and we recognize the prerogatives of the President and the Secretary-general to contribute to the progress of our collective work. We therefore expect that the broader groups will also be allowed to fully make their valuable contributions.

27. Second and relatedly, the process to develop and finalize the theme and sub-themes must be intergovernmental in nature and conform to established procedures and principles for multilateral negotiations. We expect that negotiations will be open-ended and the important role of the coordinators in facilitating progress of course remains invaluable. Yet we cannot afford to proceed in a manner that is less than fully inclusive.

28. Third, in the spirit in which all have professed to enter into this process, we expect an ambitious and historic conference. We would therefore view with great concern and considerable difficulty attempts to limit UNCTAD and its mandate, as well as to introduce non-substantive elements into the process.

29. There is no point in changing a system and machinery that have not been given the chance to work. Put metaphorically, there is no point in overhauling an engine if its problem is that it has run out of gas. UNCTAD XIV is therefore about putting fuel in the engine that is UNCTAD, and revitalizing the commitment to turn the ignition and put the car into drive. Subsequently, the outcome document will be the map to our destination. On the other hand, enhancing the day to day functioning of UNCTAD is something that we should continue to address in the TDB and its subsidiary bodies.

Madam President,

30. I will close by stressing once more our commitment to a positive process based on constructive engagement. Yet I would caution that our positive spirit and our commitment to engage should not be misinterpreted as anything else than resolution and commitment to have a good outcome at UNCTAD XIV.

31. We assure our partners that their good faith and positive approach will be reciprocated.

Thank you madam President. May I request the Secretariat to circulate a copy of this statement.