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STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY U WIN AUNG, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE UNION OF MYANMAR, AT THE TWENTY-FOURTH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE GROUP OF 77
(15 September 2000, New York)
First of all, would like to express, on behalf of the Delegation of the Union of Myanmar and on my own, our deep appreciation to you, Mr. Chairman, for the major advances made by the Group of 77 in furthering its common interests since Nigeria’s assumption as the Chairman of the Group earlier this year.
Indeed, since the dawn of this new millennium, the Group under your leadership has displayed our solidarity in a series of major events, particularity the UNCTAD X, the South Summit and the Group’s representation at the G-8 Summit and recently concluded Millennium Summit. Once again, we are gathered today at this yet another important meeting to further strengthen our solidarity and position amid this historic Millennium Assembly. I have every confidence that with your wealth of wisdom and experience, the deliberations in this Meeting will again be guided to a fruitful conclusion.
At the South Summit held in Havana, the Group of 77 has already voiced loud and clear its collective views through adoption of the Havana Declaration on all major North-South economic issues highlighting the unbalanced and inequitable international economic order. In addition, we have, after careful and extensive consultations, also laid down the Group’s platform for future action. We should now make use this valuable opportunity afforded by this Meeting to concentrate our energy and efforts in making useful preparations for the Millennium Assembly in order to get something concrete out of this year’s Assembly.
First and foremost among the overriding issues is the question of how best we could minimize the negative impacts of globalization on the developing countries, particularly on the weaker economies. The answer to that question is simple and is widely recognized. The benefits and prosperity generated by the globalization, which now concentrated only among a few countries, have to be spread more evenly among the countries of the world. The weaker economies must he saved from the danger of further marginalization. Effective means must be provided for their full integration into the world trade and economy. There is a mounting anxiety among many developing countries regarding the negative consequences of globalization. They are concerned about the vulnerability of their economies to external shocks. They worry about the imminent erosion of their national sovereignty and the adverse effect on their cultural diversity. These concerns must be addressed through appropriate measures. My delegation believes, however, that these problems cannot be effectively resolved until and unless the international community redress the fundamental asymmetries and imbalances in the existing global economic system.
The United Nations and the international financial institutions, which were created in the post-war era, have become unequal to the task in the present days’ realities. They could no longer adequately serve humanity in today’s rapidly globalizing world. It is therefore imperative that these institutions be reformed and strengthened so as to be able to respond to the development needs of the developing countries. They must be reformed to bring democracy and transparency in their decision making process by allowing the South a fair representation.
Another issue on which we must forge a common position is to respond to the developed world’s proposal for the possible launching of a new round of trade negotiations under the WTO. This issue should not be allowed to divide our Group, We believe that trade is the engine of growth and development. My delegation, therefore, fully supports the principle of progressive liberalization of international trading system. However, the pace and area of further liberalization should not be dictated by the priorities of the rich countries. The Interests of the disadvantaged countries must be taken into full consideration. Many developing counties are already overburdened with the obligations of the existing WTO agreements. They should not be made to shoulder more commitments in new areas, Efforts should be made so that the developing countries are convinced of the benefits if the Uruguay Round agreements. We feel that launching of new trade round is far less urgent than the fulfillment of the commitments made by the developed partners in favour of developing countries by opening their markets to the products of interest to developing countries. Duty-free and quota-free access should also be made to the exports of LDCs.
If the new trade round is to be launched, it should take into full account the development dimensions. It must be accompanied by a package of effective technical cooperation and capacity-building programmes for weaker countries to enable them to participate fully and effectively in future trade negotiations.
Furthermore, in the new trade negotiations, non-trade issues including labour standards should not be allowed to find their way into the WTO agreements. AS have been agreed at the 13’h Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, we must remain firm in rejecting any attempts to use those issues for political or protectionist purposes. Likewise, we must continue to condemn the use of unilateral economic measures imposed on the developing countries since they are contrary to the WTO provisions and international law.
Mr. Chairman, The other major issue hampering the economic growth and development is the external debt burden of the developing countries. We must continue to press the developed world to take necessary steps to write off the debt of the LDCs to enable them to escape from the vicious circle of poverty and hunger. In this regard. we should applaud the Italian Government’s recent decision to cancel the official debts of HIPC eligible developing countries. The other developed partners should also be urged to follow suit. We also welcome the call to the international community by the United Nations Secretary-General to wipe off their book all official debt of the HIPCs.
Mr. Chairman, The integration of developing countries into global economy will largely depends on their ability to gain access to adequate level of financing for development. The role of ODA remains crucial in financing basic infrastructure for developing countries. In view of declining level of external flows of development assistance, we welcome the convening of two major events scheduled for 2001, namely a High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on Financing for Development and the Third UN Conference for Least Developed Countries. Effective preparations and meaningful participation of the donors and international financial institutions at those important events are essential for their success.
Mr. Chairman, At the South Summit, we have made known the Group’s firm conviction that the countries of the South must be equitably represented in any forum deliberating and deciding on social , economic, or political matters which can have an impact on the countries of the South. As a result, the Chairman of the Group of 77 had been invited to participate in a dialogue with the G-8 partners prior to the Okinawa Summit. This is an encouraging sign that our Group’s collective voice has not been ignored.
Havana Summit served thus not only as a symbol of the solidarity of the South, but also made an important contribution to the promotion of North-South relations. We call for continued and constructive dialogue with the industrialized countries with a view to establishing genuine partnership.
In parallel with North-South dialogue, we must further strengthen the South-South cooperation to bring the concept into a concrete reality. To this end, we have already laid down a well-charted Pro c of Action at the Havana Summit. At this Ministerial Meeting, we must reaffirm the Havana Declaration and take effective follow-up measures to implement the Havana Programme of Action. That will enhance the role of the Group in our negotiations with our development partners for the establishment of international economic relations based on justice and equity.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.