Press Releases

    Preparatory Committee for the International Conference on Financing for Development
    2nd Meeting (PM)


    DEV/2359
    15 January 2002

    PREPARATORY COMMITTEE ON FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT
    HEARS CALLS FOR REALISTIC, CONSTRUCTIVE
    APPROACH TO CONFERENCE OUTCOME

    Calls rang out this afternoon for a realistic and constructive approach to the outcome of the International Conference on Financing for Development, as the fourth Preparatory Committee session embarked on what its Co-Chairman called the "most arduous part of the journey".

    Preparations for the International Conference on Financing for Development, to be held from 18 to 22 March, in Monterrey, Mexico, entered their final phase today, as delegations focused on the task of handing over to the Conference a consensus text. The first-ever global conference on development financing seeks to address broad development concerns, especially the obstacles faced by developing countries in mobilizing the resources needed to finance their development and fulfil the social and humanitarian goals set by past global conferences.

    Consensus was within reach, the Facilitator, Mauricio Escanero of Mexico, told the Committee. The message from the morning meeting had been the need to produce a finished text that could serve as a springboard for all stakeholders in the Monterrey process. At issue was the successful management of the challenges of development financing in a newly globalized world. Monterrey would be much more than a consensus document; it would be a set of processes and initiatives, and a series of commitments, he said.

    Commenting on the text and the process, itself, on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, the representative of Venezuela said those countries were making every stride to create an enabling environment to expand their domestic resource bases and strengthen institutions, which could generate more resources and use them efficiently, but the most important factor in mobilizing domestic financial resources for development was a conducive global environment. He called for an open, rule-based and non-discriminatory multilateral trade system as an essential component of the global economic system.

    Commerce and trade were "linchpins for development", the United States' representative said. The groundbreaking 2000 Africa Growth and Opportunity Act -- based on the principle that good governance, rule of law and political freedom attracted investment and promoted growth -- had offered eligible sub-Saharan African countries the most liberal access to the United States market available to any country or region that did not have a free trade agreement with the United States. Official development assistance (ODA) also advanced development, but the greatest impact had been in countries committed to poverty reduction, good governance and sustainable growth policies.

    The eradication of poverty required the help of those with the most in collaboration with those in the greatest need, in the form of a new partnership, the representative of Spain asserted on behalf of the European Union. Nevertheless, strategies to overcome poverty were the responsibility of the very States affected by it. The New Partnership for Africa's Development had supported the concept of mutual commitment and was a positive step towards a cooperative development paradigm.

    The landlocked developing countries understood the effective role of domestic policies in ensuring sustained growth, as well as the fact that flows of international financing must be matched by improved governance and sound macroeconomic and fiscal policy, said the representative of Mongolia, speaking on those countries' behalf. At the same time, global assistance and external financing was still an essential factor for the development of the most vulnerable among them.

    Before the Committee is the revised outcome document, which is divided into two sections -- confronting the challenges of financing for development/a global response, and leading actions. It commits countries to join forces to confront the challenges of financing for development, combating poverty and achieving sustained growth, as they advance to a fully inclusive and equitable global economic system.

    The text also draws attention to the terrorist attacks of 11 September, which deepened the economic slowdown by further reducing growth rates and, with them, prospects for better living standards. According to the text, it has now become more urgent to enhance collaboration among all stakeholders to jump-start a sustainable recovery and address the long-term challenges of development financing.

    Co-Chairman Shamshad Ahmad (Pakistan) commented on the draft outcome document and introduced the Facilitator. He said that the text was meant to serve as a sound basis for forging global alliance and partnership for development financing. The focus now should be on generating adequate resources for development on a sustained basis.

    Statements were also made by the representatives of Bangladesh, on behalf of the least developed countries, Japan, Bulgaria, Honduras, Jordan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Algeria and Poland. The observer of the Holy See also spoke.

    The Executive Director of United Nations Development Fund for Woman (UNIFEM), the Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and an official of the International Trade Centre also spoke. The Mayor of Monterrey spoke on behalf of the World Association of Cities and Local Authorities Coordination, a non-governmental organization.

    The Committee will proceed to informal meetings on the draft outcome document. The date and time of its next formal meeting will be announced in the Journal.

    Background

    The Preparatory Committee met this afternoon to begin its consideration, at the fourth and final session, of the second revised draft outcome prepared by the facilitator (document A/AC.257/32).

    (For detailed background of the draft outcome and the session itself, see Press Release DEV/2358 of 14 January.)

    Statements

    As the Committee began its consideration of the facilitator’s draft outcome document and other issues related to finalizing the outcome of the Monterrey Conference, Co-chair SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said the financing for development process should not be viewed as one aimed at solely generating financial flows or pledging funds for development. Neither should it be viewed as a tug-of-war between developed and developing countries or an attempt to spark arguments about a new international financial order. The process, he said, was about sharing benefits and building partnerships in pursuit of development. That was the goal of the work being undertaken by negotiators.

    He said it was time for all to work to build bridges that would effect greater harmony in broad efforts to promote development. The world had never been more vulnerable to the shocks of financial or political upheaval in any part of the globe. It was time to confront realities, build consensus and address development challenges through cooperation in order to root out the causes of poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy. Sustainable development was the shared goal and common agenda of all shareholders -- a sentiment had been highlighted by world leaders during the Millennium Summit, he added.

    The most arduous part of the Committee’s journey was now underway, he said. While the draft under consideration may not satisfy all, it was up to the Committee to find a common ground in order to ensure that Monterrey was a success. He said that the final document should not be viewed as a charter of demands posed by developing countries. It was only meant to serve as a sound basis for global partnership for financing for development. He said the focus should be on identifying realistic and constructive objectives.

    Comprehensively addressing the challenges of development would benefit both developed and developing countries, he said. Also, the ultimate success of the Conference would depend on the conclusions released during the current preparatory session. The Committee must work urgently to finalize the document, so that it would be complete by the start of the Conference. Negotiators must therefore have realistic views about what could be achieved -- the document must not be seen as the "be all and end all" of development, but the start of a long and successful process. He added that the Committee must also consider a name for the document.

    The representative of Sudan suggested that the outcome document be called the "Monterrey Consensus".

    MAURICIO ESCANERO (Mexico) introduced the revised draft outcome (document A/AC.257/32). He said that the message from the morning meeting had been the need to produce a finished product, which could serve as a springboard for all stakeholders in the Monterrey process. At stake was the successful management of the challenges of development financing in a newly globalized world. Monterrey would be much more than a consensus document; it would be a set of processes and initiatives, and a series of commitments. The revised text carefully reflected members' observations and comments, as well as the intensive consultations that took place since the last session. It also took into account the positive outcome at Doha and was built around those proposals that were closer to the "heart and will" of participants. Consensus was within reach, he added.

    MILOS ALCALAY (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said the Group had always underlined the notion that countries had the primary responsibility for their economic development. Indeed, domestic resources were the primary means of financing developmental activities in any country. With that in mind, developing countries were making every stride to create an enabling environment to expand their domestic resource bases and strengthen mechanisms and institutions which could generate more resources and use them efficiently.

    Nevertheless, he continued, the most important factor in mobilizing domestic financial resources for development was a supportive and conducive international environment. In a globalized world, where interdependence had become more and more prominent, the mobilization of domestic resources could not be viewed in isolation. The mobilization of international resources through foreign direct investment and other private flows was also a major topic before the Committee. That was particularly so in light of globalization and financial liberalization. And while the Group believed that the relevant chapter within the draft contained many constructive elements, it also believed the document lacked the necessary elements to encourage specific initiatives and activities to strengthen cooperation in the field at various levels.

    He stressed the need for the establishment of some necessary arrangements for facilitating cooperation among the business sectors of developing countries and their counterparts in the developing world. It was also necessary for the document to emphasize the necessity of dissemination and transfer of technologies as well as to build local research and development capacities. The role of credit-rating agencies and the objectivity, transparency and accuracy of their activities should be addressed as well.

    He said that trade was the most important and multi-dimensional mechanism for almost all developing countries to mobilize and expand their resource bases -- both domestic and external -- for financing for development. Trade was also the major instrument of integration in the international economy and could have positive spillover effects, including in the areas of foreign exchange earnings, expansion of domestic savings, employment, promotion of economic growth and the eradication of poverty. The Group believed that an open, rule-based and non-discriminatory multilateral trade system was an essential component for the global economic system and would contribute profoundly to world economic growth and the smooth integration of developing countries into the world economy.

    On the chapter of the draft concerning trade, he said the Group believed that development was directly related to trade and should be substantially addressed in institutional agreements and trade negotiations. Trade barriers, subsidies and other trade distorting measures had an adverse impact on the ability of many developing countries to exploit their competitive advantages and hampered their ability to generate resources for development.

    He said the Group also stressed the importance of strengthening and increasing international financial cooperation for development through increased official development assistance (ODA). External debt, he said, was a crucial challenge for almost all developing countries, and there was a need for appropriate strategies compatible with a range of situations. Technical assistance should be provided to developing countries to improve their debt management. Bilateral and multilateral creditors should be urged to pursue debt relief, including the cancellation of debt for highly indebted countries.

    He went on to underline the fact that enhancing the coherence and consistency of the international monetary, financial and trading systems in support of development should be a paramount objective of the financing for development process, including the outcome of the Monterrey Conference. The Group believed that the existing institutional arrangements in those fields lagged far behind the process of economic and financial integration at the global level. Adequate representation and broad and meaningful participation of developing countries in the international decision-making and norm-setting process was imperative.

    Finally he added that the draft’s follow-up mechanism should have the capacity to monitor full implementation of agreements and commitments reached at Monterrey, engage all stakeholders in follow-up and monitoring and be able to envisage further initiatives for implementation of the outcome.

    MIGUEL BENZO (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed the Union's firm commitment to implementing the development targets and commitments of the Millennium Declaration and other major United Nations conferences and summits. The eradication of poverty required the help of those who had the most in collaboration with those in greatest need, in the form of a new partnership. Indeed, a substantial part of the strategies to overcome poverty fell within the scope of responsibility of the very States affected by it. The New Partnership for Africa's Development, which supported the concept of mutual commitment, was a positive step towards a cooperative development paradigm.

    He said that essential elements in that regard were sound, pro-poor macroeconomic policies that promoted investment, the promotion and protection of all human rights, the rule of law, democratic institutions, anti-corruption measures and environmental protection. Also critical were efforts to increase national and international resources, including ODA, and making them work more efficiently for development. Together, bases could be created for sustainable development in those countries that lacked them. The Union welcomed the involvement of key stakeholders and the resulting improvements in coordination and coherence that had characterized the current process. It would offer specific points on each section of the revised draft.

    JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) said that development required liberty, fairness, openness, compassion, and the recognition that the domestic private sector -- not national or foreign governments -- was the most efficient, powerful and reliable source of future growth. A major theme of the Conference should be that domestic resources were the basic foundation for a country's development. During the past 40 years, countries that had successfully promoted their economic growth and development had done so through improvements in their domestic economic policy environments and openness to trade. That had meant a commitment to increased private investment, increased institutional capacity, political and economic stability, regulatory transparency and a level playing field for all market participants.

    In a word, he said, commerce and trade were the "linchpins for development". At the same time, the United States recognized that some countries needed to enhance their capacity to participate in the global economy. As a consequence, his Government had provided more than $1.2 billion in just the past three years towards building trade capacity abroad. It was constantly seeking ever more effective bilateral and multilateral use of limited resources. In that regard, the effective participation of developing States as partners in identifying appropriate measures and remedies was critical. The Doha experience of consensus-building was an excellent example of creative consultation.

    The 2000 Africa Growth and Opportunity Act was another case of ground-breaking innovation, he said. That was based on the principle that good governance, rule of law and political freedom attracted investment and promoted growth. The Act offered eligible sub-Saharan African countries the most liberal access to the United States market available to any country or region with which the United States did not have a free trade agreement. During that act’s first nine months -- excluding oil, precious stones and metals, those countries saw an 11 per cent increase in sales to the United States, led by a 36 per cent increase in apparel.

    It was domestic private capital and open markets that provided the "major muscle" to move societies into the modern world. Where domestic resources were too constrained to achieve near-term success, however, developing countries must do the right thing to tap foreign sources of funds. Again, the major sources were in the private sector. As countries developed, a sympathetic environment for the allocation of scarce private capital resources assumed critical importance. United States private capital flows to the reform-oriented developing countries had increased twenty-fold from 1993 to 2000.

    He said that ODA also advanced development in the poorest countries, although it was important to note that that had the greatest impact in countries that were committed to poverty reduction, good governance, and sustainable growth policies and investments. Judicious investments in human capital, technology and institutional capacity were critical contributors to development. That was why the United States was working closely with international organizations to reduce the burdens of heavily indebted poor countries. His Government would continue to deploy resources where private funding was not available and governments were committed to institutional change.

    IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the least developed countries, said the nearly 600 million people living in the world’s poorest countries were barely surviving, and the countries themselves were structurally unable to mainstream themselves into the current economic and developmental process. With that in mind, it was important for all to realize that for those countries, Monterrey was their best hope to break their cycle of poverty. Concerted action was needed, he said, between the developed and the developing, the rich and the poor and between governments and civil society. The main challenge was to halt the marginalization of the poor and poorest. The international community must find a way to press globalization into the service of all.

    He went on to say emphasis should be placed on social and human development in conjunction with poverty elimination programmes. Negotiators should not forget that the Millennium Declaration had also called for increased developmental assistance to those countries that were making a sincere effort to eliminate poverty within their borders. Trade was an important instrument for the generation of resources for development. Unfortunately, the least developed countries were bereft of such opportunities. To gain from trade one must first posses the mechanisms to engage in commerce, he said. To that end, he drew attention to the integrated framework for capacity-building for least developed countries. That programme was deserving of broad international support. Where micro-credit institutions were weak, governments must step in to supplement them, he added.

    MINORU KUBOTA, Special Advisor to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said that in order to secure financing for development, developing countries, themselves, must exercise ownership. Without it, cooperation by development partners would never bear fruit. Through its ODA programme, his country had supported those countries that had acted on the basis of that principle. Japan, itself, continued to face severe economic difficulties. Nevertheless, its Government was determined to overcome its problems and continue to provide assistance to those countries to the maximum extent possible. The draft fully reflected the starting point in financing development was the promotion of development by developing countries, themselves.

    He said that the outcome document should be a set of effective and feasible policy guidelines that stood up to examination. It should contain realistic and achievable recommendations. The document's quality would have an impact on the reputation of that the United Nations had won in the area of development. Discussions on specific subjects such as international trade, finances, debt and aid coordination should respect the expertise of specialized organs such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Bretton Woods institutions, the Paris Club, and OECD-DAC. His delegation would submit its specific comments on the second draft in due course. One suggestion was to annex the second and third chapters to the body of the text.

    JARGLSAIKHANY ENKHSAIKHAN (Mongolia), speaking on behalf of the landlocked developing countries, said he was fully aware of the effective role of domestic policies in ensuring sustained growth, as well as the fact that flow of international financing must be matched by improved governance as well as sound macroeconomic and fiscal policy. At the same time, international assistance and external financing still remained an essential factor for the development of many developing countries, especially the most vulnerable among them, such as the landlocked developing countries. He, therefore, welcomed the fact that the revised draft outcome highlighted the essential nature of international financing, especially ODA, for that group of countries and pledged the global community's support for building the capacity to mobilize domestic financial resources for development.

    He said that, in the fast globalizing world market, access and transportation costs had a major impact on countries' economic performance and, consequently, on the prospects for sustained growth. Landlocked developing countries lacked the key determinant of geographical advance -- easing of interactions with other economies, consumers, suppliers and sources of information and technology. The negative impact of that geographic disadvantage had been highlighted in various studies, which concluded that both per capita income levels and growth rates were significantly higher for countries that had a high proportion of population close to the coast and were close to one of the existing centres of economic activity. That reinforced the view long held by the landlocked developing countries that comprehensive efforts by the international community were needed to assist them in overcoming the disadvantages of their geographical location.

    ZLATI G. KATZARSKI (Bulgaria) associated himself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union. He urged agreement on better mobilizing and channeling development resources, both public and private, in order to meet the special needs of all developing and transition countries. In the short time remaining, members should concentrate on the key issues and seek effective and lasting solutions. One of the main achievements of the development financing process had been the substantive dialogue set up between all involved actors. More efficient cooperation and enhanced coherence among the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO was critical to the success of the present endeavour.

    He said that the process' great potential could be realized by moving forward in establishing consensus on harmonizing donor policies and procedures, and a coordination strategy among bilateral and multilateral donors. Addressing that challenge meant negotiating a clear and appropriate role for each of the multilateral organizations and regional development institutions. A priority aim was the mobilization of increasing and stable flows of international resources and financial assistance for transition economies. The development financing process could play a catalytic role by focusing on innovative forms of investment guarantees and the provision of better information on investment opportunities.

    Substantial flows and private investments must reach countries affected by conflict, such as in the Balkans, in order to stimulate post-conflict stabilization, democratic processes and economic growth, he said. The global financial institutions should give priority to projects that boosted regional cooperation and integration, and measures should be designed to promote increased flows of private financial resources for direct investments in the agricultural sectors of transition and developing countries. Those institutions could help accelerate and deepen financial reforms, enterprise restructuring and the privatization of transition economies. Trade liberalization and enhanced market access was a crucial engine for sustainable growth and the integration of transition and developing countries.

    MARIO RIETTI, (Honduras), Presidential Delegate to the Central American Council for Sustainable Development and First Vice-Chair of the Inter-American Committee for Sustainable Development of the Organization of American States (OAS), said his delegation believed that the final draft outcome should incorporate the main objective of the eradication of poverty and equitable participation in the world economic system. The outcome document should also stress a more integrated and holistic approach, including the economic, social and environmental aspects of development. Considering that the lack of financing for sustainable development had been one of the main obstacles in achieving international development goals, the outcome document should look forward to the upcoming Johannesburg World Conference on Sustainable Development.

    He went on to say it was also important for international stakeholders to stand by the commitments made at the Rio Summit for Sustainable Development. He then highlighted the outcomes of several international conferences and meetings held within the framework of the financing for development process. Some of those meetings had focused on reducing the vulnerability of countries facing economic crises and had referred to the unique economic situations facing smaller countries. Heads of State and government at such meetings had recognized the challenge of ensuring balance between economic and social development and protection of the environment and natural resources.

    He said that no real progress had been made on many fronts due to lack of coherence in working methods of the international financial institutions. Also ODA and other financial flows aimed at underpinning the sustainability of poor countries had been declining. The systematic aspects for strengthening or reforming international financial architecture and institutions should be given close consideration. He hoped that Monterrey would provide a new alliance to explore more effective mechanisms for financing sustainable development between countries, civil society, regional institutions and governments.

    Mr. BANIHANI, Secretary-General, Ministry of Planning for Jordan, associating his statement with that made on behalf of the Group of 77, said the draft outcome document under consideration should most importantly implore donor countries to stand by their ODA commitments. And while his delegation understood the call for addressing the international financial architecture, he felt that the WTO should concentrate on opening markets for exports and eradicating barriers that hampered developing countries’ participation in such markets. Innovative mechanisms were needed to address the very real debt concerns of many countries, including placing more emphasis on debt cancellation. He also called on the donor community to consider the loss of domestic revenues faced by smaller countries following the tragic events of 11 September.

    JAMES REINRT, observer of the Holy See, said during the Millennium Summit, world leaders had adopted or recommitted themselves to meeting a number of development goals. Meeting those goals and the fulfillment of the promises made at other United Nations conferences and special sessions was the reason behind the current preparatory work underway for the Monterrey Conference. It was now time to devise a means of protecting the lives and promoting the well-being of the lives of the world’s people, particularly those living in poverty. The Holy See would continue to work and pledge its cooperation through this important process. The poor must not be forced to wait any longer, nor could they be placated by empty promises and unmet goals.

    DOO JUNG-SOO (Republic of Korea) said he was pleased that many of the points raised at the last session had been duly reflected in the second revised draft. In pointing out the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks, the implications of the last WTO ministerial conference, and especially the reference to the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the draft feasibly reflected the current international political economy. Despite such improvements, however, parts of it required further discussion. Bearing in mind the Conference was intended to rally concerted political will, too detailed a document carried with it the possibility of diluting the whole concept, and, therefore, it should be simplified.

    He said that a conclusive approach should be avoided. The Monterrey consensus should not be a tool to preempt the ongoing WTO negotiation process and the reform efforts inside the international financial regime, but to promote them. The Conference was not a battlefield for negotiation, but an opportunity for culminating the vision for genuine development. A balance should be maintained between reality and vision to ensure that "our voice does not ring hollow". Also, real progress might be achieved through a balanced approach. The matter of increasing financial assistance, including the expansion of ODA, should be dealt with in a realistic manner, taking into account the various circumstances of the donor countries. Finally, there must be a gradual approach. Commitments should be responsive to changing demands, without losing the unwavering will for development.

    Mr. CHOULKOV (Russian Federation) said his delegation had a positive view of the overall document under consideration. It was now more balanced in reflecting the specific interests of countries and regional groups. Russia would particularly highlight the draft’s new elements, including those which called for strengthening of international cooperation to counteract terrorism and to address issues of money laundering and transnational organized crime. Russia also supported the draft’s sections concerning early warning and the prevention of financial crisis, identified as one of the fundamental objectives of technical assistance. The Russia’s views on specific sections would be addressed during the Committee’s up-coming in-depth consideration of the document.

    Mr. BARDAD-DAIDJ (Algeria) aligned himself with statement made on behalf of the Group of 77. He paid tribute to the Facilitator for distilling the essence of the proposals and evolving a balanced document. The highest priority of the Monterrey Conference was the elaboration of concrete measures, in particular, the commitment made by developed countries to allocate 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) for ODA. The Conference also needed to produce a collective timetable for so doing. The link between the Mexico Conference and Johannesburg was an excellent idea. It was important that there be a link between the two processes; those two should fit within the same perspective, the concretization of the goals set in the Millennium Declaration.

    NOELEEN HEYZER, Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) said the goal for the Monterrey Conference -- poverty eradication and development -- was clearly an ambitious one. The task before the Committee was to ensure that financial resources were allocated to implement internationally agreed development commitments and targets, including those of the Millennium Declaration.

    She said the Fund had been monitoring the financing for development process and providing technical input and working closely with women’s groups to ensure that their voices were heard. Women wanted the practices of key institutions to be monitored and economic policies evaluated in compliance with United Nations development targets, especially the halving of absolute poverty and the eradication of feminized poverty. The Monterrey Conference would provide an important forum for ensuring that those vital commitments received the financial resources to be fully implemented.

    She went on to highlight several areas for action that had been emphasized by women from all regions of the world. Women in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific and the Commonwealth of Independent States, among others, called on the financing for development process to address access to and control over resources and their allocation, women’s participation in economic decision-making and gender budget analysis strategies. Regarding ODA, she said women had affirmed such assistance as a powerful instrument for the promotion of sustainable development, gender equality and the attainment of universal human rights. Finally she said the road ahead would be both politically and technically challenging for many developing countries and for women. The Fund would continue to share that challenge and be a partner in creating success, so that progress for women could be progress for all.

    JOHN LANGMORE, Director, International Labour Organization (ILO), said the goal for financing for the Monterrey Conference in the facilitator’s draft -- to combat poverty and achieve sustained growth and an equitable global economic system -- set a focus for aspiration on which the international community could all agree. The Conference had the opportunity to make decisions about specific issues that would lead to concrete actions. Indeed, shared commitment to justice and the imperatives of justice and peace required no less.

    He said the current draft outcome lacked specificity about some proposals. Perceived differences could not be resolved by papering them over with fine words -- what critics of the United Nations claim regularly happens. Monterrey would only make a significant contribution if, by its conclusion, there were a number of explicit, new agreements for action. So among the outcomes that must be sought were plans for action that would contribute to increasing private and public investment and revenue collections through improved governance within developing countries, a commitment to increasing ODA and elaboration of procedures for handling the debt crisis.

    He said the Conference should also seek to extend the range of global public goods and strengthen the governance structure of the global economy by, for example, an enhanced role for the ILO with respect to employment, labour standards and social policy. Steps could also be agreed in relation to many of the valuable general commitments in the Facilitator’s draft by increasing the number of decisions on actions to be taken, mentioning which governments or institutions should take responsibility for those actions and agreeing on issues that warranted further study.

    Mr. WASILEWSKI (Poland) said his country understood the plight of poor nations. Even with its economy in transition, Poland had valuable assets, including political stability and a well-educated society. The country had successful education and health services and would try to help developing countries in accordance with its capacity to do so. It generally gave preference to bilateral assistance schemes, which created steady links between donor and assistance countries. Still, because of the transitional nature of its economy, Poland’s state budget could not be amended to meet the current donor requirement for highly developed countries. He hoped that Poland’s commitment could be recalculated to be comparable to other countries in the region.

    Mr. SMADJA, of the joint World Trade Organization (WTO)/United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) International Trade Centre, said the small and focused intergovernmental agency’s work mirrored that of its parent organizations. It provided practical and operational assistance aimed at ensuring international competitiveness on the business level. The Centre had not been able to directly address the Monterrey Conference until recently. It would nevertheless work to see that a new international emphasis would be placed on ensuring that trade liberalization went hand in hand with development for poor countries.

    He welcomed the draft’s call for renewed and intensified support for institutional and capacity-building, bridging the digital divide, and fostering dynamic business sectors in poor countries. Those were a few of the areas where the Centre had expertise and would contribute most helpfully during the run-up to the Conference and its follow-up.

    CESAR CANTU, Mayor of Monterrey, delivering the statement of the United Towns Organization on behalf the World Association of Cities and Local Authorities Coordination, said Monterrey would do its best to ensure that the Conference was a success. He said the outcome document should contain explicit reference to local authorities and local governments. Indeed, no policy for sustainable development could be successful without the participation of local actors. Local authorities could also play an important part in making decisions about economic infrastructures and community micro-credit strategies.

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