Decent Work as a Global Goal: The Role of Development Cooperation
On behalf of the government and the delegation of Sri Lanka, it is a great honour for me to address this panel on Technical Cooperation with a specific focus on Decent Work as a Global Goal: The Role of Development Cooperation.
I understand that Sri Lanka is one of the first countries in Asia, where we have taken the Decent Work concept into our national development planning. In addition to the Decent Work Country Programme, which we finalized in 2004 together with the trade unions and the employers’ organisation, I am very pleased to inform you that we have now finalised the National Policy on decent work with a National Plan of action that gives directions on key areas for implementation in Sri Lanka.
Mr. President, Your Excellencies and distinguished delegates.
I extend our congratulations and best wishes to you and the Vice-Presidents of this Assembly.
On behalf of H.E. the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Government and people of Sri Lanka, I wish to extend our deepest condolences on the sudden passing away of Director General Dr. Lee Jong-wook. We extend our sincere condolences to the family of Dr. Lee and to the larger family of WHO in their moment of grief for a leader who brought effective management and a new vision to this organization. Sri Lanka will not forget Dr. Lee’s visit to Sri Lanka in the midst of our tsunami crisis to offer the support of WHO in our time of need.
Since this is the first time I am speaking under your Presidency, may I extend our greetings and convey sincere good wishes for every success. Although you did mention on 23rd March that your opening remarks had lost much of their traditional value due to the unprecedented P6 initiative, it could also be said that within this collective engagement, each President has his own important responsibility; during your tenure of office, this will include preparing and conducting the structured debate on FMCT. You also rightly reminded us that the debate takes place in the background of extensive early FMCT related consultations in the CD.
I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of the Asian Group.
At the outset we would like to thank Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary General of UNCTAD for his comprehensive and focussed statement. We would also like to thank the Secretariat for the stocktaking report which shows important progress has been made in the implementation of the Sao Paulo Consensus (SPC), while noting also areas for improvement. We expect UNCTAD to fully implement over the next two years, the mandate given to it by its Member States at Sao Paulo. A renewal or a complete review of UNCTAD’s mandate can only be undertaken by the quadrennial conferences.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure, in my capacity as Chair of the 2005 session of the Joint Advisory Group meeting, to open this thirty ninth session. I welcome Mr. Pascal Lamy, the Director General of WTO and Dr. Supatchai Panitchpakdi the Secretary General of UNCTAD. Equally I recognize Mr. Denis Bélisle Executive Director of ITC, his successor-designate Mrs Patricia Francis and Mr Stephen Browne, the recently appointed Deputy Executive Director. UNCTAD, WTO and ITC must be congratulated for the smooth execution of the plan for the succession of ITC’s senior management team.
Let us now proceed with item I on our agenda today, the election of the Bureau.
I call for a proposal for the Chair, two Vice-Chairs and Rapporteur of this thirty eighth session.
Ambassador Ali (Bangladesh) you have the floor, Sir.
Thank you Mr. Ambassador
May I call for support to this proposal?
Ambassador Stephenson (Canada), you have the floor.
Thank you and my felicitations to you Ambassador Whelan to Mr. Zhang, Mr. Kassaja and Mr. Somarriba on your well deserved election. Of all the meetings, committees and expert groups I have chaired over the last 2 years since my arrival in Geneva, I can safely say that chairing ITC JAG has been the most rewarding; the documentation was well prepared; Mr. Bélisle and his team ensured there were no ‘surprises’; and all delegates had only nice things to say – so it was an altogether a most positive experience ! I now wish to invite Her Excellency Mary Whelan Ambassador of Ireland, to take her place on the podium and to thank her most sincerely for having accepted to chair this meeting. I also invite the Rapporteur to take his place.
Statement by H.E Sarala Fernando, Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka at the Annual Meeting of the Joint Advisory Group (JAG) of the
International Trade Center (thirty-ninth session)
24 April 2006 (Item 3: General debate)
Please accept our sincere felicitations to you and other members of the Bureau on your election. We have every expectation Madam Chair that with your experience and personal skills, you will guide this important Session of JAG to its successful conclusion.
I thank Mr. Pascal Lamy and Dr. Supatchai Panitchpakdi, representing WTO & UNCTAD, as the parents of ITC, for their inspiring addresses and Mr. Denis Bélisle, the Executive Director for his comprehensive presentation on ITC's work during the year 2005. As usual, the documentation for this meeting is of high standard and distributed in time, reflecting the professionalism that we have come to expect of this institution.
This session of JAG takes place at an important juncture. Firstly, we will soon be commencing the first formal discussion of the Mid-Term Review (MTR) of UNCTAD. Secondly, WTO members, pursuant to the Ministerial in Hong Kong, are in the process of making important decisions for establishing full modalities in key areas of WTO negotiations (Agriculture and NAMA). As we have witnessed in the past, the current WTO trade talks have gone through a bumpy road with a number of turn arounds, from setbacks to recalibrations of ambition and eventual consolidation, since the Round was launched in Doha. We must avoid any setbacks in the interest of fulfilling the developmental commitments agreed in Doha. If WTO members fail to find agreement soon, we face the danger of putting off the conclusion of the Doha Round by many years. With UNCTAD and WTO as the ITC’s parent organization, we hope that the discussions at this Session of JAG will assist in the consensus building required on the MTN process, the outcome of which in turn will influence ITC’s own future work for trade development. For example, in the context of the recent WTO Aid For Trade (AFT) Initiative, ITC should assume new responsibilities utilizing its expertise and appropriately redesigning its programmes to deliver activities on TRTA. ITC can also offer ideas on how best the views of the private sector could be reflected in the final phase of WTO negotiations.
With these background remarks, I now wish to make a few comments on specific substantive issues on ITC’s technical cooperation activities set out in its Annual Report of 2005. We commend ITC’s achievements during the year 2005, increasing its programme delivery by 4.6% over the previous year. We further note from the Annual Report some 400 training workshops have been organized in 2005, more than one per day. It is encouraging to note that a total of 184 projects were operational. Given the relatively small staff strength of the organization, we are impressed with these high performance indicators; the effective coordination by ITC efforts and events across the globe is surely an example to other UN organizations in this era of organizational reform.
One of the tasks assigned to this Advisory Group would be to review the past activities of ITC and formulate recommendations on its future work. In this context, it is more appropriate to make a few comments here on the findings of the External Evaluation of ITC activities, recently completed with the support of a group of donors led by Denmark.
My delegation, considers the Evaluation Report very comprehensive and as having come up with some useful recommendations. It has given due recognition to ITC’s comparative advantage in carrying out trade related technical assistance noting also its accumulated knowledge, experience and the network contacts maintained with Trade Support Institutions (TSI) of developing countries. We are pleased to note ITC’s positive reaction to the recommendations of the External Evaluation.
As regards ‘How ITC should evolve in the future”, the external Evaluation Report has posed three basic questions. Of these, on the issue of optimal allocation of resources between the two main options for delivery of TRTA: global products (known as Track 1) and country specific projects (known as Track 3) we wish to make two observations:
$1· Firstly, one should not underrate the significant contribution that ITC’s various global products have made to integrate small and medium size business enterprises to the multilateral trading system. For example, world trade net and market analysis services (MAS) are useful and effective tools available on line, facilitating the conduct of basic market research. The business enterprises and Trade Supporting Institutions (TSI) have made positive assessments on the practical relevance of these global products and therefore they should continue to be an integral part of ITC’s future work.
$1· Secondly, it is important to strike an appropriate balance when allocating resources between global products and ITC’s country specific interventions. There appears to be some degree of imbalance here, judging from the findings of the Evaluation Report which states that ITC trust fund for delivery of global products has increased from 60 to 70 percent in 2004. In order to be more effective and pragmatic, these two modes of delivery channels of TRTA should be mutually supportive and complementary to each other.
The importance of country level intervention has also been emphasized during the recent discussion of Aid for Trade (AFT) that has now risen to the top of global trade policy agenda. ITC could be strategically poised to play a key role in delivering whatever the Aid For Trade Package that might emerge by making more emphasis in its future work plan on country specific projects for capacity building and supply side constraints in a holistic manner. With its technical expertise in trade development, its experience in networking and in building supply side capacities of business enterprises of developing countries, we believe ITC is the institution best equipped to effectively contribute to AFT.
We fully agree with the recommendation that beside its main focus on MDG 8 (partnership for development) ITC must also make an effort to institute an “MDG Lens” in designing and implementing its future activities with the intent of better contributing towards poverty reduction and gender equality objectives.
As in the past, ITC’s current SME focus in many areas of its work should continue. This is important because SMEs need trade related technical support to keep up with the current phase of a rapidly expanding global economy. Successful integration of SME into the MTS, enhancing their productive capacities and international competitiveness, applying integrated ICT solutions to their business processes, training of SME managers, improving their ability to meet international quality standards are precisely the kind of assistance that many developing countries require. In Asia emerging out of an year of unprecedented natural disasters, where, in the reconstruction phase, our focus is on raising productive capacities and promoting employment, especially through SME development, we will continue to value ITC work in this area.
ITC has implemented a number of projects in my country during the year 2005. We wish to thank ITC and its staff and most importantly the donors for their financial support that made possible the execution of these trade-related technical assistance (TRTA) programmes in Sri Lanka.
One of the highlights of ITC’s activities in Sri Lanka during the year 2005 was the launch of the EU-sponsored Trade Development Project. We are particularly pleased with the Sri Lanka-driven character of this project and we are satisfied with the overall implementation of progress made under its two components: (1) human resources development and institutional strengthening on WTO-related issues (2) the development of private sector export capacity.
On the former, the successful completion of several training courses was very timely, given the current intensive phase of WTO negotiations. Both public sector officials involved in trade policy formulation and market analysis, as well as private sector mangers of enterprises and entrepreneurs involved in various aspects of export trade have been benefited.
Sector specific export development activities under the EU Trade development project, were also successfully launched in September 2005. The export development programme, covering Textiles and Garments; and Gems and Jewelery sectors have already produced positive results including establishing solid business contacts and confirmed orders.
During the year 2005 on our specific request, ITC also successfully launched a trade in services project under EU’s Asia Trust Fund. My delegation wishes to thank the EC – the key financial sponsor of above two projects and ITC for their efforts.
We also acknowledge with appreciation the support of GTZ, which assisted ITC to implement SHAPE sector strategy development project covering four sectors in Sri Lanka. Apart from above mentioned country specific projects Sri Lanka has also benefited from several other activities under ITC’s global products.
In conclusion, I would like to place on record our appreciation to the Executive Director Mr. Denis Bélisle for having successfully completed the transitional arrangements for the senior management team of the ITC, according to the plan he laid out at last year’s JAG. Comparing the gloomy situation at ITC 12 years ago when Mr. Bélisle was first appointed and the high point today, at which he leaves with excellent performance indicators and praise from member countries on all sides, I think Mr. Executive Director, you should be extremely satisfied. The legacy of hope and optimism that you leave with ITC will be long remembered as an example of what can be achieved within the UN system with effective leadership. Our best wishes to you for every success in your future endeavours and we warmly welcome the Executive Director designate and the new senior management team and wish you also all success in your tenure of office at ITC.
I thank you Madam Chair.
The successful conclusion of the Negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda would result in significant gains to both developed and developing countries. However, as in the case of the Uruguay Round, these gains will not be evenly distributed. The trade liberalization would also entail additional costs, to some developing countries. The impact of these will be particularly harsh on the LDCs and the weak and vulnerable economies. Furthermore, some developing countries also will not benefit from the multilateral trade liberalization as they do not have the capacity to compete in the global markets with more competitive exporters from developed and more advanced export-oriented developing countries.
I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of the Asian Group.
At the outset we would like to congratulate you and other members of the Bureau on your well deserved election. We stand ready to assist you in the challenging task to make this Commission a success with tangible results. I also thank Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary General of the UNCTAD for his comprehensive statement and the Secretariat for its pertinent and timely preparation of documents for this meeting. These contributions contained valuable ideas and recommendations that will no doubt assist our deliberations.
The Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) met in Geneva 22-23 February 2006 for talks on the Ceasefire Agreement. The parties discussed issues related to the ceasefire, including the concerns of the Muslim, Sinhalese, and Tamil civilians.
Hon. Minister Erik Solheim and the Facilitation team,
Mr. Anton Balasingham and members of the LTTE delegation,
On behalf of H.E. the President of the Republic of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Government of Sri Lanka, I am pleased to make these preliminary comments at the commencement of the talks between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government and hosted by the Government of Switzerland. At the outset, let me thank all the parties, including the Co-Chairs, who have worked tirelessly to make this event a reality.
I felicitate you Mr. Chairman and the Bureau on your well-deserved election and assure you of the full cooperation of the Sri Lanka delegation in the successful conduct of this important conference.
Sri Lanka participated actively in the negotiation process of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Consequently, we were the first country in the region and fourth in the world to ratify this first ever public health treaty. This is indeed a matter of pride for our nation and for our region.
In order to follow up on our ratification, the Sri Lanka Ministry of Health conducted an Inter-ministerial Conference on FCTC Implementation inviting all relevant stakeholders in January, 2004. The objective of this conference was to establish a mechanism for smooth implementation of provisions identified in the FCTC. Planning for multi-sectoral tobacco control strategies was extremely important, as the health sector alone could not implement a comprehensive tobacco control policy and programme in the country. We have set a firm initiative for collaborative action towards FCTC implementation in Sri Lanka and the Ministry of Health will play the leading role as the focal point, ensuring coordinated action by relevant stakeholders.
We realize that a comprehensive national legislation for tobacco control is needed for implementation of our obligations as a Party to the treaty. While planning for expansion of the scope of existing legislative measures, the Government is already committed to this cause and a comprehensive Act of Parliament is under preparation.
While waiting for these legislative measures, we are pleased to inform that our awareness campaigns and other effective tobacco control strategies have already enabled a reduction of consumption by 4% and there is growing public awareness of the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.
Sri Lanka would like to reiterate its dedication to protect present and future generations from the tobacco epidemic in our country and we do affirm our commitment to the global community by supporting and implementing FCTC provisions to the highest levels.
The delegation of Sri Lanka extends sincere congratulations to you and the Bureau on your election and assures you of our full cooperation in the successful completion of the Conference.
Historically maritime issues have had a special consideration within ILO, as witnessed by the treatment of these issues at special Maritime sessions. This session marks a significant step in ILO standard setting activities in this area by the proposed adoption of a single Comprehensive Convention, forward looking, addressing issues of contemporary concern in a practical manner facilitating future updating of technical standards. ILO’s technical cooperation in the effective implementation of the Convention, if adopted, would be invaluable.
On behalf of the Asian Group and China I would like to join previous speakers to congratulate you and other members of the Bureau on your election. We stand ready to assist you in the challenging task to make this Commission a success.
We also take this opportunity to thank the Secretary General Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi for his valuable statement and join in welcoming the new Deputy Secretary General Mr Dirk J. Bruinsma. I also thank the UNCTAD secretariat for its pertinent and timely preparation of documents for this meeting, as well as the many activities conducted within the Sao Paulo mandate during the period under review including policy analysis, servicing of the intergovernmental machinery, technical assistance and capacity building. These documents and out puts contained valuable ideas and recommendations and will assist our deliberations.
Mr. President, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In June 2004, Ministers of member-states of the Agreement on the Global System of Trade Preferences Among Developing Countries, better known as 'GSTP,' met on the occasion of the Eleventh Conference of UNCTAD in Sao Paulo, Brazil and launched the third round of GSTP negotiations.
In the Sao Paulo Declaration launching the round, the Ministers recognized the need for concerted action to harness the enormous potential of the GSTP Agreement in promoting and expanding trade among developing countries. They also reiterated their commitment to promote and sustain mutual trade, and to further economic cooperation through the exchange of concessions within the framework of the Agreement.
Since this is my first intervention under your Presidency, let me take this opportunity to extend our sincere congratulations on your assumption of this important responsibility. We also join other delegations to request you to convey sincere condolences on behalf of Sri Lanka to the families of those who lost their lives in the tragic accident in Katowice.
Your Presidency offers a unique opportunity since your country Poland has experience and understanding of the aspirations and sensitivities across the regional groups. Moreover, the Polish Presidency comes at a crucial time. As you mentioned in your opening statement our current situation is one of serious frustration and quests for alternative approaches to get the CD back to work. We must also be mindful of the management reforms currently being processed in New York, which will bring new pressures to further reduce the resources allocated to the CD for reasons of the impasse in this body. During this year, considering what is at stake, all of us in the CD bear a special responsibility to engage, each other and our capitals, using all the creativity, flexibility and political will evoked by many delegations, to assure a healthy continuity of this unique body.
* The author is the Permanent representative of Sri Lanka to the WTO. However the views expressed in this paper are personal to the author and should not be necessarily attributed to the Government of Sri Lanka.
1. Political support for the WTO approach to a rule-structured world trade in an environment of growing bilateral and regional trade agreements.
In an environment where growing bilateral and regional trade agreements are increasing rapidly in numbers and significance, prevailing trends indicate, that the political support for the multilateral trading system and the WTO is not adequate enough. Though both Developed and Developing Countries are actively pursuing bilateral and regional arrangements, the major threat to the multilateralism stems from the initiatives undertaken by the Developed Countries, particularly by the two major trading powers.
The Southerland report recognizes that the implications of the preferential arrangements on the principle of non-discrimination have reached a point where the Most Favored-Nation (MFN) has become the Least Favored-Nation treatment. Though the report states that only nine trading partners, all of whom are high-income countries, pay full MFN tariff in the European Union (EU), some developing countries receive even lower level of access to the EU. The situation in the United States also is becoming similar to that of the European Union. This is serious concern to those countries, particularly for small and vulnerable countries, which face discriminatory treatment, in their main markets as a result of these arrangements.
In a multilateral trading environment, in which a number of developing countries are discriminated in their market access to developed country markets, in an environment where gains of multilateral negotiations these developing countries obtained in the developed country markets are diluted through regional and bilateral preferential arrangements and through the preferential rules of origin, it is difficult for developing countries to become the main supporters of the WTO and the multilateral system. Some of these countries have become marginalized from the multilateral system due to distortions in the multilateral trading system.
2. Participation of smaller and poor developing countries in the WTO negotiations.
The participation of the smaller and weaker developing countries in the multilateral trade negotiations, has improved substantially since the conclusion of the Uruguay Round, but remains far from been sufficient. Many small developing countries do not have representatives in Geneva. Even when there is a mission in Geneva, such missions are not adequately staffed. However, the presence in Geneva, though critical for the participation in the negotiations, alone will not ensure the sufficient participation in WTO negotiations.
The main need for many developing countries is to strengthen national trade negotiating capabilities. This requires capacity building for trade policy formulation, in relation to its development strategies. At the national level this entails the strengthening of the interagency coordination for trade negotiations at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels, with the involvement of all the stakeholders, government agencies, the private sector, academic institutions and the civil society.
Then there is the need to strengthen the cooperation among developing countries, while recognizing the diversity among them. In some regions, small countries can do this at regional level, when commonality of interest is involved.
However, even the Geneva based delegations, of smaller countries, with relatively good support from the capitals, some times do not get to participate sufficiently due to inherent weakness of the system. This is particularly true if you are not a member of large group.
Finally there is the need to address the supply-side constraints that limits the participation of some of the developing countries in the world trade. It is meaningless to spend your limited resources to participate in the WTO negotiations, when your participation in the multilateral trade is limited.
3. The social effects of WTO agreements
Trade liberalization can sometimes result in adverse implications on women and poor sections of the population. Various studies have pointed out that the on-going process of trade liberalization may result in adverse implications on some developing countries. These would mainly result from preference erosion, higher food import bill for Net Food Importing Developing Countries and from the expiration of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC).
The results from the quota phase-out are already becoming clear in the countries that were most vulnerable to the quota phase out. The reports indicate that in some countries this has led to substantial job loses and more job losses will take place within this year in few more countries. The impact of these losses will be most strong in the poorer sections of the society, particularly in women and may lead to serious political and social consequences. However, the WTO so far has failed even to discuss this issue, as some major exporting countries, which benefited from the phase-out, oppose even placing this issue on the agenda.
It is possible to envisage a number of areas in the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), which would result in adverse implications on many developing countries. These include preference erosion, impact on the net food importing developing countries and food aid. These are the issues which need to be carefully analyzed if we are to minimize the adverse implications of trade liberalization on most vulnerable members. The prevailing trends in the negotiations indicate that these issues may not be addressed adequately.