MONTERREY CONFERENCE ON FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT HEARS STATEMENTS BY 28 PRESIDENTS, PRIME MINISTERS
President Fox of Mexico Opens Summit Segment;
(Received from a UN Information Officer.)
MONTERREY, 21 March -- The leaders attending the International Conference on Financing for Development should forge a century of bridges, not barriers, meetings, not wars; shared benefits, not isolated efforts, Vicente Fox, President of Mexico and Conference President, said this morning.
Speaking at the summit segment of the Conference, which brings together heads of State and government, as well as the leaders of key international financial institutions, in Monterrey, Mexico, Mr. Fox said the Conference was an historic opportunity to create a convergence of economic growth and human development, by opening up local development, and promoting economic efficiency and the well-being of citizens. It was time for bold change. Monterrey had become the trigger for a new movement designed to combat marginalization and underdevelopment.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, "We are here to discuss the fate of people. Not people in the abstract, but million upon million of individual men, women and children." Eighteen months ago, the political leaders of the entire world had agreed, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, that the first 15 years of this new century must be used to begin a major onslaught on poverty, illiteracy and disease. And they had provided a clear measure of success or failure: the Millennium Development Goals. Achieving those goals by 2015 would not mean the battle for development had been won. "But if we fail to achieve them, we shall know we are losing", he said.
[The Millennium Development Goals are eight key development objectives set out in the Millennium Declaration that was endorsed by over 160 world leaders at the historic United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000. The goals comprise time-bound global targets to improve health, education and the environment across the world, with the overarching goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015.]
He said that all serious studies concurred that they could not be achieved without at least an additional $50 billion a year of official aid -- roughly a doubling of present levels -- given in an efficient way. The clearest, most immediate test of the Monterrey spirit would be whether the donor countries provided that aid.
During the debate, many leaders stressed the importance of forging partnerships and promoting cooperation at all levels to achieve sustainable development. The Conference and its outcome were cited by many as key elements in that process. Specific examples of inequities and areas where progress was needed were put forward in many statements.
Hugo Chávez Frías, President of Venezuela, speaking for the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said there was a need to recognize, in the most profound way, that the world was not only crooked, but "upside down". The world leaders could and must do a great deal to turn it around. Complying with the target of 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) for official development
José María Aznar, President of Spain, speaking for the European Union, said the Union was the greatest donor of development assistance in the world and had decided to do the necessary to ensure that its members’ ODA average would be 0.39 per cent by 2006. The Union would also work to ensure that ODA was more effective and efficient.
Festus G. Mogae, President of Botwana, said the poor economic and social conditions in Africa should be a major concern of the Conference. He implored the international community to support the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), which was anchored on the fundamental principles of African ownership, leadership and accountability, as well as good governance and maintenance of peace and security.
Fidel Castro Ruz, President of Cuba, said the existing world order represented a system of plundering and exploitation like no other in history. "The world economy is today a huge casino", he said. As a result of this economic order, over 75 per cent of the world population lived in underdevelopment, and extreme poverty had already reached 1.2 billion. The rich world should grant fresh, soft credits to finance the development of poorer nations.
Mike Moore, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), noted that abolishing all trade barriers could boost global income by $2.8 trillion and lift 320 million people out of poverty by 2015. Poor countries needed to grow their way out of poverty, and trade could serve as a key engine of that growth.
James D. Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, said that the Conference was a great opportunity to reinforce the collective commitment to expand the opportunities and resources necessary to halve world poverty by 2015 and meet the other Millennium Development Goals. There was greater consensus than ever before about what needed to be done. "We must not squander that opportunity", he stressed.
Horst Köhler, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said the Monterrey consensus defined the right priorities. It made clear that nothing would work without good governance, respect for the rule of law, and policies and institutions that unlocked the creative energies of the people and promoted investment. Beyond Monterrey, the consensus must be transformed with a sense of urgency into concrete action.
Han Seung-soo (Republic of Korea), President of the United Nations General Assembly, said the most important potential and self-relying source of financing for development was export earnings. The developed countries must make their markets more open and accessible to the developing countries and maintain the high levels of growth needed to absorb ever rising imports.
Also speaking this morning were the Presidents of Nigeria, Peru, Federated States of Micronesia, Togo, South Africa, Palau, Nicaragua, El Salvador, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Uruguay, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Croatia, Finland and Romania, as well as the King of Jordan.
Speakers also included the Prime Ministers of Belgium, Canada, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Morocco, and the Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Planning, Economic Development, Labour, Information and Legal Affairs of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
The summit segment of the Conference will continue today at 3 p.m.
The summit segment of the International Conference on Financing for Development opened this morning. Statements were expected to be made during the debate by, among others, Vicente Fox, President of Mexico; Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations; and Han Seung-soo, President of the General Assembly.
VICENTE FOX, President of Mexico and President of the Conference, called to order the summit-level segment of the Monterrey Conference. He welcomed all to Mexico, a nation that sought to build a bridge towards future opportunities. Mexico looked at the world with new eyes. Everyone knew what accompanied lack of development, but they also knew that success and prosperity could be achieved in a country that was resolved to work and progress, along with the necessary resources. Hence, he had enthusiastically supported today’s meeting between the developing and developed countries. For decades, the nations of the world had endeavoured to come to grips with the problems of development and poverty through international cooperation, but, so far, the results reached had been "meagre, belated and discouraging". The century just ended was one in which security was identified with the construction of walls and barriers.
He said it was the responsibility of the leaders present to forge a century of bridges, not barriers, meetings and not wars, shared benefits and not isolated efforts. The Conference was a historic opportunity to construct those bridges and build bridges for a convergence of economic growth and human development, by opening up local development and promoting economic efficiency and the well-being of citizens. "Let this be the spirit of Monterrey." It was time for bold change. Today’s meeting marked the beginning of a new concept of development. Indeed, Monterrey had become the trigger for a new movement designed to combat marginalization and underdevelopment; Monterrey provided an opportunity to commit freely. In that new era of shared progress, everyone must assume his or her responsibilities.
If the twenty-first century was to become the century of development for all, then everyone must be prepared to undertake bold action. That implied a challenge to earlier attitudes and a search for new ideas and actions. "Let this be the spirit of Monterrey", he said. The Conference was part of a world movement for development. The Millennium Summit had marked the beginning of that new effort to eradicate marginalization. In Doha, impetus was given to more equitable participation of developing countries in world trade. The Johannesburg Summit would emphasize environmental aspects for sustainable development. Everyone should contribute to the "new agenda for world development", and towards forging a future of peace, harmony and universal development.
Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN said, "We are here to discuss the fate of people. Not people in abstract, but million upon million of individual men and women and children." All of them were eager to improve their own lives by making their own choices; and all of them would be able to do so, if only they were given the chance.
He said resources were needed for development -- human resources, natural resources, and also, crucially, financial resources. "That is why we are here -- and it is good to see so many of you here, particularly those of you from developed countries", he said.
He said it was good to see so many present from the developed world. Those present had realized, as more and more of their fellow citizens were realizing, that all lived in one world, not two, and that no one in this world could feel comfortable, or safe, while so many were suffering and deprived. It was equally good to see so many leaders here from the developing world itself. They were not here asking for handouts. They knew that they themselves had much to do to mobilize domestic resources in their own countries, as well as to attract and benefit from international private capital.
What they were asking for was the chance to make their voices heard, and ensure that their countries’ interests were taken into account, when the management of the global economy was being discussed, he said. What they were also asking for was the chance for their countries to trade their way out of poverty -- which meant that the markets of the developed world must be fully and genuinely open to their products, and the unfair subsidies to competing goods must be removed. The promise of Doha must be fulfilled.
Many were also asking for relief from an unsustainable burden of debt, he said. Many of them were saying that, in order to do without handouts, their countries first need a helping hand up, in the form of a significant increase in official development aid.
Eighteen months ago, the political leaders of the entire world had agreed, at the Millennium Summit, that the first 15 years of this new century must be used to begin a major onslaught on poverty, illiteracy and disease. And they had provided a clear measure of success or failure: the Millennium Development Goals. Achieving those goals by 2015 would not mean the battle for development had been won. "But if we fail to achieve them, we shall know we are losing", he said.
All serious studies concurred that they could not be achieved without at least an additional $50 billion a year of official aid -- roughly a doubling of present levels -- given in an efficient way, which, for instance, leaves recipient countries free to choose the suppliers and contractors that best met their needs. The clearest, most immediate test of the Monterrey spirit would be whether the donor countries provided that aid. The substantial announcements made in recent days were a positive sign, in that regard.
He said some donors might still be sceptical, because they were not convinced that "aid works". To them, he said, "look at the record". There was abundant evidence that aid did work. Aid was vital, but it was not the whole story. Development was a complex process, in which many different actors had to work together, and not against each other.
That was why it was so encouraging to see finance ministers and businessmen here, as well as development ministers, he said. And that was why the process of preparing that Conference -- with the United Nations, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Bretton Woods institutions working together as never before -- had been so extraordinary. "At last, we are all tackling the issues together, in a coherent fashion", he said. That was the true Monterrey spirit, which must be sustained in the months and years ahead.
The "Monterrey Consensus" was not a weak document, as some had claimed, he said. It would be weak if it wasn’t implemented, but if the international community lived up to the promises it contained, and continued working on it together, it could mark a real turning point in the lives of poor people all over the world. "Let’s make sure that it does", he said.
HAN SEUNG-SOO (Republic of Korea), President of the General Assembly, stressed that no country could achieve rapid development without meeting at least three preconditions. First, it must have access to financial resources, domestic or external, or most likely a combination of the two. Second, it needed the human capacity to efficiently absorb those resources and the wherewithal to build greater human capacity, as more resources were generated. Third, it required the "appropriate" intangible infrastructure, such as markets, to make productive use of external financial resources. The core elements of such infrastructure included free enterprise, good governance, sound macroeconomic policies, a strong anti-corruption ethic, and transparently applied rule of law.
The importance of domestic savings, foreign borrowings, foreign direct investment (FDI) and official development assistance (ODA) in financing development should not be understated, he said. However, the most important potential and self-relying source of such financing was export earnings. In that regard, the developed countries must make their markets more open and accessible to the developing countries and maintain the high levels of growth needed to absorb ever-rising imports.
He added that the General Assembly and its high-level dialogue constituted the most appropriate forum for monitoring and facilitating implementation of the Conference’s outcome, given its universal membership and its character as the chief deliberative and policy-making organ of the United Nations system.
JAMES D. WOLFENSOHN, President of the World Bank, said that the Conference was a great opportunity to reinforce the collective commitment to expand the opportunities and resources necessary to halve world poverty by 2015 and meet the other Millennium Development Goals. It was apt to be meeting in Monterrey, Mexico, since Mexico exemplified much of what could be achieved from open markets, capacity-building, the creation of an investment climate, good fiscal and monetary policies, an attack on corruption, and a commitment to democracy. Mexicans should be proud of their progress, but Mexico also showed how resilient inequality and exclusion could be. The challenge ahead must not be underestimated.
He said that, perhaps for the first time in an international meeting, there was greater consensus than ever before about what needed to be done. "We must not squander that opportunity." All people had a right to human dignity; all people had a right to control their own lives; yet for billions, poverty snatched that right away. People had a right to opportunity -- in education, trade, and in building a better future for their children. That was why he was here. He had spoken before about an imaginary wall that separated the rich world from the poor. But there was no wall. There were not two worlds, only one. "Here at Monterrey, we must rid ourselves of that wall once and for all." A new partnership had arrived.
World leaders now shared the same set of values, he said. A new generation of leaders was taking responsibility in developing countries. Many leaders were tackling corruption, putting in place good governance, giving priority to investing in their people, and establishing an investment climate to attract private capital. There was also an understanding that aid and the spending of funds needed to be effective. There was no continuity if aid was wasted. The leaders of developing countries also understood that if they carried out their responsibility, there was a need for partnership from the developed countries, which should then open markets for trade and provide increased development assistance. The new partnership was exemplified in the city of Monterrey.
In recent days, he had heard the announcements by the United States and the European Union about increased development assistance. That was a very important and welcome move forward. There was no longer any excuse for anybody not to move forward and carry forward the responsibilities of leadership. If one wished to confront poverty, then the basis for partnership was there. The real challenge was to implement that spirit by moving to a new phase of implementation of a set of shared goals. He looked forward to giving to the poor of the world the chance that they needed -- partnership, not charity.
HORST KÖHLER, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said the Conference should become a milestone in the fight against world poverty. He did think it was possible to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and noted the IMF’s deep commitment to playing an active part in that effort. The world needed more integration, not less, but it also needed stronger international cooperation, to guide and shape the process of globalization. "We must do our utmost to ensure that people at the local level understand this process, are engaged, and have the means to take advantage of its opportunities", he said.
He was encouraged that there was an unprecedented degree of agreement about what was required to overcome world poverty, he said. The Monterrey consensus defined the right priorities -- it made clear that nothing would work without good governance, respect for the rule of law, and policies and institutions which unlocked the creative energies of the people and promoted investment, including FDI. It also recognized that when poor countries were ready to live up to those responsibilities, the international community should provide faster, stronger, and more comprehensive support.
In that regard, he stressed the importance of trade, reaching the target of 0.7 per cent of ODA, debt relief and that slow progress in the reforms needed to fight poverty often reflected a lack of institutional capacity, rather than political will. The IMF itself was in a process of reform, learning from experience and driven by its desire to make globalization work for the benefit of all. He said that beyond Monterrey, the consensus must be transformed with a sense of urgency into concrete action. A comprehensive and transparent system to monitor progress towards the Millennium Development Goals should be developed. As part of the process, the respective responsibilities of poor countries and their development partners should be more clearly identified.
MIKE MOORE, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said poverty in all its forms was the greatest single threat to peace, democracy, human rights and the environment. Abolishing all trade barriers could boost global income by $2.8 trillion and lift 320 million people out of poverty by 2015. Poor countries needed to grow their way out of poverty, and trade could serve as a key engine of that growth.
Agriculture was the backbone of almost all developing countries, he said. The return to developing countries in that one area would be eight times all the debt relief granted developing countries thus far. Textiles and clothing was the greatest export earner for many developing countries, and the negotiations must ensure that the sector was integrated as planned for 1 January 2005. Even more insidious an issue than tariff peaks was that of tariff escalation, which tilted the tables against the development of indigenous processing and added value. Protection cost the European Union, the United States and Japan between $70 billion and $110 billion each annually.
Developing countries, he said, need not wait until the conclusion of the Doha Development Round. South/South trade in the 1990s grew faster than world trade and now accounted for more than one third of developing-country exports. Seventy per cent of the burden on developing countries’ manufactured exports resulted from trade barriers of other developing countries. The issue was never aid versus trade, he added. Both were needed.
HUGO CHÁVEZ FRÍAS, President of Venezuela and Chairman of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said many people around the world depended on what was being debated today. There was a need to recognize, in the most profound way, that the world was not only crooked, but "upside down". The world leaders could and must do a great deal to turn it around. True decisions must be taken to transform the world, indeed, to save it. Ten years after the Earth Summit, tropical forests and fertile soil had continued to be destroyed, as well as thousands of species of animals and plants. The atmosphere was polluted and the climate was suffering a most atrocious change. Moreover, what had been done since the Millennium Summit to halve poverty, and provide free access to health and education for women and children?
He said that, with respect to development financing, the type of development should be defined. The development model of the North very often had caused the underdevelopment of the South. In some cases, it had been shown that if the entire world acquired the standard of living of the most developed countries, 10 planets similar to earth would be necessary to sustain the life of the people on the planet. The United Nations had been defining development, and that was the model that had to be financed urgently. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had defined the areas of development, as life expectancy and health, quality of education, and the real income level of the family. It should be recognized that the world was undergoing a "very great social emergency".
The IMF was not the necessary tool for the struggle; it was not created for that, he said. The creation of new tools must be discussed on an urgent basis, such as the creation of an international humanitarian fund. Perhaps, that could be funded through a percentage of foreign debt, but, alone, that was not the panacea. Perhaps, military expenditures could be reduced and those monies could be diverted for development. Behind the consensus text, there were some truths, but no consensus was absolute. There were a few important ideas, including that each country should take the national initiative to mobilize resources for development. Still, there were gross subsidies in the "first world", including for agriculture.
He said that complying finally with the target of 0.7 per cent gross domestic product (GDP) for ODA would yield enough resources for human development. Truly, for many peoples of the world, foreign debt was "unpayable". Venezuela, in three years, had paid $30 million just to fight poverty and that battle had not yet been won. The South, in past few years, had paid $800 thousand million to the North in interest, and in capital another $800 thousand million, yet the debt remained like a "strange monster" that grew and grew.
JOSÉ MARÍA AZNAR, President of Spain, on behalf of the European Union, said shared concern about the need to eradicate poverty had brought all those present to the Conference. The Conference was dedicated to the subject of eradicating poverty, from which a large percentage of humankind was suffering. The world was also suffering from terrorism, a crime perpetrated against all mankind that must also be addressed.
The Conference was the commencement of an understanding that all must have the same opportunities, he said. The world should be fairer, freer, more prosperous, and better. The Conference marked a meaningful milestone. Global challenges required global responses. Every country had a potential that must be released. Good governance, democracy, equality, better and more assistance, greater dialogue and education were some of the faces of this complex polygram that constituted the basis for development.
The European Union was the greatest donor of the development assistance in the world and had decided to do the necessary to ensure that the Union members’ ODA average would be 0.39 per cent by 2006. The Union would also work to ensure that ODA was more effective and efficient. International trade was a real motor for development, and the Union had committed itself to the Doha principles, with particular emphasis on opening markets. It would increase its capacity-building assistance and would provide, among other things, technical assistance to help with trade negotiations. The Union would try to have an impact on changing the international financial structure. It would also make efforts to alleviate debt-related problems. The Union was committed to respecting and developing the Monterrey consensus, he stressed.
OLUSEGUN OBASANJO, President of Nigeria, said that at the Millennium Summit world leaders had agreed on a set of ambitious development goals designed to create a better world. Attaining those targets would require an enormous amount of resources from both developed countries and institutions of the international community. He expressed concern over a recent study by the World Bank, which stated that Africa, in particular, would not come close to achieving those goals if present trends continued. In that connection, he commended the increase in ODA announced by the European Union and the United States in recent days.
The survival and security of nations would be determined by action or inaction, effectiveness or ineffectiveness, he said. One of the lessons of the past six months was that security for one enhanced security for all. Such security transcended national and political terms and encompassed the provision of basic needs for the population to escape hunger, poverty and overcome the lack of education, health and housing. National security without human security was inconceivable.
Since he had come to power, he said he had been unable to attain a single cent of debt relief that could be reallocated for his country’s development needs. The developing world expected substantial debt relief for all developing countries. Improved market access and the removal of trade barriers were also necessary, as was a reversal in the present downward trend in ODA. In addition, it was necessary to have effective allocation of aid by donors and effective utilization by recipients with joint monitoring.
ALEJANDRO TOLEDO MANRIQUE, President of Peru, said that poverty prevented the true exercise of freedom and conspired against democracy and the sustained growth of peoples. In recent months, discussions had ensued about the relationship between national and multilateral responsibility in the search for a financial and trade system that was better structured as a basis for sustainable development. Peru could assume its internal responsibility to financially re-engineer structures to enable the country to reallocate resources to social investment. Peru had just reallocated 20 per cent of its defence costs to health and education, and it was working with its neighbours to reduce their progressively military pasts and reorient public investment towards social investment.
He said his country was also designing new financial mechanisms to benefit small and medium enterprises, which were generating productive work and often new opportunities for the poor. But none of that was enough. National responsibility required a "multilateral space". Hence, he had decidedly backed the proposal for a renewed global alliance, which would give impetus to development financing and combating poverty. That alliance must affirm a more favourable trade structure, building on the Doha Ministerial Declaration, and it must ensure that international capital flows did not destabilize small countries. It must also establish an international mechanism of payment maintenance for countries with problems of liquidity, guaranteeing safeguards for both creditors and debtors. Globalization must be an integrating, rather than an excluding, philosophy, and narrow the economic gaps between countries. The Conference signified a new step in the global alliance.
Global security was inextricably linked with the health of the world economy, he went on. Insecurity and the sinister role played by terrorists could not fail to be confronted. Terrorism sowed violence and intolerance, and preferred death to life. To talk of development was also to talk of a resolute global fight against terrorism. Just a few hours ago, Peru was struck by a new cowardly terrorist attack, in which eight people died, and 30 men and women were fighting for their lives. The attack had been one of obscure origin that sought to strike at a people struggling to reconstruct its democracy and achieve development. His country knew the bloody consequences of terrorism and had paid for it with 25,000 lives and many millions of dollars. That had led it to a firm and immediate rejection of the attacks of 11 September on the United States. He excused himself from the meeting to deal with the present crisis.
LEO A. FALCAM, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, said that his country, like many small island States, had few natural resources. Coupled with its small population base, distance from markets and other constraints, that limited the range of economic options at its disposal. Development, if it was to succeed, must overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.
Unless there was political stability, transparency and accountability, economic development initiatives were bound to fail. It was true that domestic sources of development financing were essential to further the goals of a nation. However, in most developing countries, domestic sources alone were not adequate to carry the nation forward. That was particularly true of small islands where resource bases were small, and where elements such as public administration and infrastructure costs consumed a large portion of those meagre domestic resources.
With regard to reforming economic institutions, he highlighted four elements that were equally important which should be used as a basis to affect decisions and/or plans when it came to implementation of the Monterrey consensus. First, macroeconomic stability must be ensured. Second, economic growth must be improved. Third, the efficiency of basic social services must be improved. Finally, economic growth should be environmentally sustainable. As nations achieved higher growth and greater reliance on their own resources, the fragile environment and invaluable biodiversity would surely face greater threats.
AGBÉYOMÉ MESSAN KODJO, Prime Minister of Togo, said this Conference on development financing attested to the fact that indifference to poverty could not be sustained in the world. In that regard, he stressed the shared responsibility of the international community.
The average income in most of the world had slumped, he said. He noted that the assets of the three richest persons in the world exceeded the GDP of the 48 poorest countries. The African continent constituted 1 per cent of world trade and could not finance imports and the transfer of technology. Half the population lived below the poverty threshold. Life expectancy was the lowest in the world, and disease such as HIV/AIDS and malaria continued to take a heavy toll. Those conditions should permit Africa to reinforce its relationship with international financial institutions. There must be a real dialogue between development policies to make sure that all interests were covered. Greater solidarity must bring together foreign investors and recipient countries with a long-term vision of development. There must be fairness in international trade.
He called for innovative methods to help move forward from the mistakes of the past and abide by the spirit of the Millennium Declaration. Partnership was key. In the process of giving and receiving, efforts must be made so that all benefited. At a time of regionalization, Africa must optimize its efforts. He appealed to the developed countries to increase FDI and ODA, which had declined in recent years. The target for ODA of 0.7 per cent should be attained by 2015. He also noted the debt burden on countries in his region and supported its cancellation.
GUY VERHOFSTADT, Prime Minister of Belgium, said that world poverty had caused despair among hundreds of millions of people, who were alone, dispossessed and shadowed by the fate of an unsustainable inequality. Tribute should be paid to the creators of the outcome text, but those bearing the ultimate responsibility for fulfilling its commitments were present now. There could be no banal declaration, which would deprive the meeting of its significance. The leaders were not here to sidestep the subject or speculate, each in his or her own corner, about the best way to escape the ills of mankind. Together, they had agreed on the Millennium Summit and decided, together, to halve poverty. That dream was accessible if it was truly desired. Leaders should not leave the Summit on an ambiguous commitment.
He noted that it had been agreed that nothing would be changed in the conclusions of the Monterrey consensus, which deserved a true debate. He was resolved to lay down in Monterrey a new impetus. Participants must move away from "agreed texts and sweetened declarations". A legitimate and healthy coalition against terrorism had been founded in September; the free world could not abide such a barbaric attack. That coalition must remain unalterable. At the same time, poverty must be eradicated, as that had fed the fertile soil of terrorist abomination. Fanaticism could not become the new "opium of the excluded". Responding to the world’s inequalities meant truly responding to that permanent risk.
A precise timeframe should be set to allocate 0.7 per cent of GDP for development aid, he said. For the fourth consecutive year, his country had substantially increased its development aid budget, with a certainty of arriving at the announced percentage by 2010. Work must be faster in terms of debt relief for the poorest countries. On aid and debt relief, Belgium had proposed setting up a fund financed by the three richest countries. Such a mechanism would make possible a reduction of the debt of the 49 poorest countries and finance new development programmes. He intended to submit that proposal to the ministerial meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in May in Paris, and he asked the Untied Nations Secretary-General to submit the proposal before the United Nations. Regarding trade, subsidies required very careful consideration; the small local farmer had a hard time believing that world trade was a source of freedom when he was prevented from selling his cheese and butter beyond his village.
JEAN CHRÉTIEN, Prime Minister of Canada, said that he was especially pleased that the consensus acknowledged the complexity of the issue at hand and resisted the temptation to resort to attractive but simplistic solutions. While the document recognized the importance of development assistance, it also recognized the fact that development assistance would, by itself, never create the sustained economic growth that was integral to achieving meaningful development and a better quality of life.
Leaders of developing nations needed to follow policies that created a framework for sustainable economic growth and productive private sector investment, including a commitment to good governance and the rule of law, sound fiscal and monetary policies and improved transparency. The challenge for leaders of developed countries was to reward those efforts with effective assistance. The consensus was a blueprint for meeting that challenge. Beyond aid, it recognized the need to deal with choking debt loads. It also recognized that there would be little prospect of investment and trade if developing nations were denied access to world markets.
Also, as Chair of the "G8", Canada hade made building a development partnership with Africa a priority, he said. The goal was to endorse a concrete Africa action plan, based on the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). To implement the objectives of the plan, Canada had set aside an additional $500 million.
JOSÉ MARÍA PEREIRA NEVES, Prime Minister of Cape Verde, noted that one of the main objectives of the United Nations Charter was to promote cooperation to deal with the social and economic problems of Member States; therefore, the United Nations must be at the centre of the effort to sustain development. However, there had not been enough progress, as evidenced by the low levels of world ODA, which fell well below the target of 0.7 per cent.
Countries like his own should have in place the necessary conditions to promote development, he said. It was time for resolute action to make this possible. The support of the international community was a key element of the process. New resources must be put forward to promote private and public institutional capacity-building, and to help promote FDI and trade, especially in the least developed countries, small island States and landlocked States.
Fighting poverty must be made a priority, he said. The rhythm of development would also depend on the capacity of developing States to take their destiny into their own hands. Efforts were being made to achieve good governance, but additional international support was necessary. He hoped Monterrey would pave the way towards success and an effective contribution to a better, more just and peaceful world. He called for greater international cooperation so that all would benefit from the opportunities currently present.
THABO MBEKI, President of South Africa, said that the presence of world leaders at today’s meeting signalled unequivocally that they would act together as a potent force for change. They had come to break new ground and extend the frontiers of what was possible, in order to attain balanced global development. Those leaders must reach explicit commitments on development financing and then proceed with great clarity of purpose to the Johannesburg Summit in September to map out the detail for sustainable development. The Monterrey consensus must be accepted as a foundation on which to build. He welcomed the announcements made by the European Union and the United States in the past few days to substantially increase their ODA commitments.
He said he was also greatly encouraged by discussions between representatives of governments and the private sector on steps to increase investment flows. He accepted the proposals developed in round tables to improve on the coherence within countries and between the multilateral organizations, but he urged that more be done soon. If the world continued on the current trajectory, the combined threats of underdevelopment, poverty, environmental degradation, ill health, and conflicts over natural resources would undermine prospects for political stability and prosperity. That had made it urgent to reach an agreement on sustainable development.
On international trade, he said that the post-Doha negotiations must be treated with urgency, and the OECD must be called upon to act on the more than $360 billion in agricultural subsidies, which locked out developing nation imports. On ODA, he appealed for a greater focus on defeating poverty and underdevelopment, simplification of procedures and greater transparency in the awarding of grants. Perhaps, the greatest tragedy of ODA was that it peaked at 0.35 per cent of gross national product (GNP) in 1990 and had been declining ever since. The current level of 0.23 per cent of GNP was a far cry from the committed 0.7 per cent.
On external debt, he appealed for a drastic revision of the terms and conditionalities applicable to the Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative. Unless the outflow of scarce capital from the poorest countries was staunched, it would never be possible for those governments to marshal the resources to improve the quality of public services or address the infrastructure deficits. It was important to commit to a partnership of mutual accountability between the North and South to create the necessary changes, as illustrated by NEPAD. The premise of that partnership must be an unambiguous commitment to solving problems in a spirit of joint responsibility. The world’s poor needed to know that the correct decisions would be taken to end their misery and degradation.
TOMMY E. REMENGESAU, JR., President of Palau, said that, since his country’s political independence in 1994, it had been working diligently to establish a real and effective framework for achieving sustainable development. The ultimate goal was to provide for economic self-sufficiency. While the country would prefer to accomplish its development goals without depending on outside assistance, certain aspects of development were beyond current knowledge and available resources. There must be a special recognition and support for those developing countries making genuine efforts to help themselves. Palau sought the necessary training, tools and initial funding to be self-sufficient. In that context, donor nations should expect each developing nation to establish a strong policy framework as a prerequisite to receiving financial aid.
He said that that would help ensure that technical assistance and direct funding contributions were not wasted through non-performance by the recipient nation. He, therefore, supported the recent suggestions of United States President George Bush that an international financing programme be established that created real incentives for nations that sought funding from donor countries and that set planned strategies and well defined criteria to qualify for such incentives. The criteria included performance budgeting, requirements for balanced budgets, strict audit requirements, transparent banking laws and strong support for private sector development. Countries that put in place such policies of good governance, and thereby met the established criteria, should be given easier access to, and a larger share of, the "development pie". They should also have access to an expedited process of review and distribution.
Priority should be given to nations that had established positive track records in their use of financial assistance, he went on. Past failures to use developmental funding for intended purposes and parallel failures to implement funded programmes should not be rewarded; that certainly should not result in an equal development funding status for those countries that had made good faith efforts to achieve the stated goals of the development projects. Developing nations that had taken the initiative to reform their basic economic and political institutions, and that had strong and positive records, should be placed on a "fast track" programme for assistance, leading to real self-sufficiency. Sustainability was a key element in today’s discussion. For the Pacific island nations, that was the only key to success. Global warming was a reality and biodiversity was under attack. Such issues could be addressed only through continued global strategies.
ENRIQUE BOLAÑOS GEYER, President of Nicaragua, said the Conference sought to make history and to do so under difficult circumstances. Developed countries must be made aware of the hopes aroused by the Conference. "When we leave this Conference, we will all be winners or we will all be losers."
On the basis of consensus, he urged greater cooperation and greater funding. It was essential for Nicaragua that the HIPC Debt Initiative actually be implemented. His country’s resources must be supplemented to implement its priorities. With regard to the debt problem, it was a case of getting too little too late. Opportunities were needed to sell the products of developing countries in international markets and to reduce trade-distorting subsidies.
Democracy, he said, was not just the right to vote, but also giving dignity to people. His Government was working on "moral renewal" in Nicaragua, a campaign to combat corruption, both public and private. Public opinion polls had shown the need for greater institutionalization of the electoral system and the improvement of the tax system. Solidarity and resources were expected from the international community to eradicate poverty and create a world in which all could live in dignity.
FIDEL CASTRO RUZ, President of Cuba, said the existing world order represented a system of plundering and exploitation like no other in history, thus, the world peoples believed less and less in statements and promises. The prestige of the international financial institutions rated less than zero. "The world economy is today a huge casino." Analyses indicated that for every dollar that went into trade, over 100 ended up in speculative operations completely disconnected from the real economy. As a result of this economic order, over 75 per cent of the world population lived in underdevelopment, and extreme poverty had already reached 1.2 billion. Far from narrowing, the gap was widening -- the revenue of the richest nations was now 74 times larger than that of the poorest. The life span of the population of the developed world was 30 years higher than that of the people living in sub-Saharan Africa -- a true genocide.
He said the poor countries should not be blamed for this tragedy. The main responsibility for financing for development lay with those States that, for obvious historical reasons, today enjoyed the benefits of modern imperialism. The rich world should forgive the foreign debt of poor countries and grant them fresh, soft credits to finance their development. The traditional offers of assistance were either inadequate or unfulfilled. For true and sustainable economic and social development to take place, much more was required than is usually admitted. The Monterrey consensus, which the masters of the world were imposing on the Conference, intended that "we accept humiliating, conditioned and intrusive alms".
Everything created from Bretton Woods until today should be reconsidered, he said. A far-sighted vision had been missing at the time of the Bretton Woods conference; in the face of the deep present crisis, a still worse future was offered where the economic, social and ecologic tragedy of an increasingly ungovernable world would never be resolved. Statesmen and politicians must calmly reflect on this. The belief that a social and economic order that had proven to be unsustainable could be forcibly imposed was really senseless. Something must be done to save humanity, he said. A better world was possible.
FRANCISCO GUILLERMO FLORES PÉREZ, President of El Salvador, said his country had been crushed for years by war. Its basic infrastructure had been destroyed; its exports had been reduced to little; and there had been a huge exodus of its citizens. Most of those remaining lived in untenable poverty. Under those circumstances, his country decided to come out on top by rebuilding an inclusive political model that was conducive to the creation of a functioning democracy. Today, while the country still faced major challenges, it had nevertheless replaced despair and war with optimism.
He said that the first prerequisite for tackling underdevelopment and poverty was for a country to shoulder its responsibilities. "We were the ones that made mistakes that led to war and we were the ones that took steps to lead to peace." Two myths perpetuated poverty: developed countries believed they had the magic formula; and poor countries blamed developed ones for their poverty. For El Salvador, it was only when its people assumed responsibility for their future that prosperity began to emerge. Only a committed leadership had led to solutions. Freedom of expression was essential, and that meant strengthening communications and media. A combination of security, stability and peace was also needed to defeat poverty.
If the world had been able to distinguish between legitimate political demands and terrorism 20 years ago, then the conflict in El Salvador would have been shorter, he said. Similarly, if the judicial system had been working properly, there would not have been war there. Poverty was synonymous with isolation; an isolated community was a poor community. Trade barriers or distortions created by subsidies condemned a country to poverty. The only way out was by working and selling the goods on the open market. So, assuming responsibility, electing legitimate leadership, living in a state of law, and access to the open market were the prerequisites for development.
BORIS TRAJKOVSKI, President of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said a representative of a non-governmental organization in his country recently thanked the Government for blankets and stoves, but said what the people really needed was jobs. For his country, that summed up the reason he was at the Conference. In order to finance development, global action was needed first on the local level, then nationally and regionally. A global increase in the world economy would eventually provide for a decrease in poverty, a closing of the gap between rich and poor, and implementation of every dimension of sustainable development.
He said that last year his country was a target of brutal attacks from extremist armed groups whose purpose was to destabilize Macedonia, disrupt inter-ethnic cohabitation and the democratic processes. Thanks to responsible politicians, he had been able to find a political solution to that crisis. But, full stabilization of the country required economic recovery. In that regard, he hoped the world leaders would encourage their businesses to look at the new opportunities for trade and investment in Macedonia. Entirely aware of the importance of international support, long-term prosperity required mobilization of domestic financial resources as an important engine of economic development. His ultimate goal was to increase domestic investments, especially in small- and medium-sized enterprises, which were the biggest engine of any economy.
Attracting FDIs was another priority, he said. To achieve that, his country was creating a legal framework to guarantee the security of FDIs. There was also a need for a more active role of the global community. His country had all the right conditions for attracting FDI, but potential investors turned away owing to the various conflicts in the country and region. The international community should take steps to guarantee potential investors in countries that had emerged from conflict and which needed "sustainable stability". Strengthening international trade was also important, and the liberalization of the multilateral trade system would stimulate development and benefit all countries. There was also a need for global action to alleviate the negative effects of the debt crisis.
JORGE BATTLE IBAÑEZ, President of Uruguay, said that 65 per cent of his country’s population owned their own homes and there were some 500,000 computers in the country. Also, Uruguay had free elections, freedom of the press and no prisoners of conscience.
The reality of 50 years ago had not adapted to current times, he said. "We were still in the days of Malthus and Hobbes." There had been an enormous increase in the world’s population. The weakest were growing the fastest. There was also an enormous concentration of the population in urban areas, as populations that could not maintain themselves in family agriculture drifted into the cities. It seemed that only the negative factors were on the increase. That, in turn, weakened governments, as well as their capacity to govern.
Uruguay welcomed the efforts by the international credit institutions, such as the IMF, whose statement he applauded. Also, he welcomed the actions of some developed countries, such as the United States, for their recent announcements of increases in assistance. He stressed that the true opening up of markets remained the best way to combat poverty. "Diseases are cured by attending to their causes and not by diminishing their symptoms."
FESTUS G. MOGAE, President of Botswana, said that while individual countries bore the primary responsibility for their own advancement, development was a global challenge requiring global solutions and the active participation of all stakeholders. Mobilization of domestic and international resources, including FDI and other private flows, policies conducive to equitable growth of trade, increased ODA and debt resolution, were among the keys in achieving poverty eradication. The Conference should, therefore, mark the beginning of a common global approach to development financing.
Significant volumes of ODA were needed to spur economic and social progress in the short to medium term, he said. Official development assistance could contribute to building human and institutional capacities. The value of aid could be considerably enhanced by untying it, harmonizing donor policies and procedures, as well as by making it more responsive to developing countries’ needs. That additional ODA was necessary did not, in any way, detract from the major responsibility of developing countries in their own development in terms of optimizing domestic resource mobilization and ensuring good governance.
It was estimated that 20 per cent of the world population enjoyed 80 per cent of its wealth, and that 1.2 billion people around the world lived in poverty, he said. That situation required immediate redress and development strategies focused on poverty eradication. The poor economic and social conditions in Africa should be a major concern of the Conference. There existed wide disparities in human development, as indicators between Africa and the rest of the world illustrated. Even worse, those disparities were widening. He implored the international community to support NEPAD, which was anchored on the fundamental principles of African ownership, leadership and accountability, as well as good governance and maintenance of peace and security.
RICARDO MADURO JOEST, President of Honduras, said he supported the commitments made by donors at the Conference. Things were moving in the right direction now, and, hopefully, the goal of 0.7 per cent of GDP for ODA would be achieved. He urged donor countries to make additional commitments to increase grants over loans made on a conditional basis. Success in defeating poverty was possible only with development assistance and market access. In general, confidence in leaders and institutions should be strengthened. Last year in Honduras, agreement was reached among all political parties and society, in general, to establish a new supreme court that was independent of political and economic influence.
The State institutions were being strengthened and the electoral commissions were being depoliticized, he said. Further, public authorities would no longer enjoy immunity. In Honduras, human development was a priority. In that context, the tax and fiscal system required careful management to ensure stability, but allocations for education, health and security must remain intact. Hondurans understood that the country’s sustainability depended, in part, on timely and sufficient assistance from the international community, but depended more on the resolute determination of the citizens and civil society organizations.
He was proceeding with depoliticizing public bodies and making them more efficient and transparent, he said. The only sustainable solution over the long term was citizen participation. At the same time, markets must be opened. Indeed, Honduras had opened up its market to its neighbours in Central America. They wished to present themselves as a solid block in order to face up to the challenges facing them all and achieve their shared regional dream. Honduras was now ready to play its part as a development partner, regionally and globally.
HIPÓLITO MEJÍA DOMÍNGUEZ, President of the Dominican Republic, said financing for agriculture must be among the new priorities of the international agenda. His Government had succeeded in increasing agricultural production resulting in the growth of the national economy. That provided his country with an experience worth sharing with others. Greenhouse agriculture and genetic engineering, among other things, were permitting the production of foods that were increasingly safe.
Severe financial restrictions and trade-distorting measures constituted insurmountable obstacles to the economic advancement of countries, he said. Support from the international financial system would contribute to the provision of new technology, upon which the new competitiveness depended.
A transparent and just system of trade was an important condition for development, he said. In closing, he urged that a solution be found for his neighbour, Haiti, which required urgent assistance.
PASCOAL MANUEL MOCUMBI, Prime Minister of Mozambique, said that the responsibility for economic and social development lay primarily on each country. The promotion of good governance, sound economic policies, the rule of law, respect for human rights, transparency in decision-making and combating poverty were fundamental to the success of national development plans.
However, good governance at the national, regional and international levels must be pursued in an equally reinforcing manner so as to sustain dialogue, transparency, equality and equity -- essential factors for economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development. The effective interaction of all sources of finance, namely, the mobilization of domestic resources, ODA, international trade flows for direct investment and debt relief, were critical elements for achieving coherence in financing for development.
Ownership of the economic and social development process and mobilization of resources were also crucial elements that needed to be complemented by more flexible mechanisms of channelling financial resources, he said. Experience had shown that one United States dollar of unconditioned aid had more value than two or more dollars of conditioned aid.
King ABDULLAH BIN AL HUSSEIN, King of Jordan, said the international community had set bold goals, namely, poverty eradication, promoting development and sustaining economic growth. Those challenges could be met if today’s unique opportunities for change were grasped. The first opportunity was the unprecedented awareness of the mutual reliance of nations and peoples. Failure of one country could send ripples of crisis around the world.
A second opportunity for constructive change was a new and global sense of urgency, he said. For too long, deep pools of poverty and desperation had served as breeding grounds for conflict and division. "We must move quickly to remedy unfairness and heal despair." One essential step was a comprehensive lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
A third opportunity entailed access to a growing database of effective development strategies, he continued. The marketplace was a powerful engine for growth. Yet, in 2000, developing countries received just 19 per cent of all FDI flows, down from 41 per cent in 1994. Also, in 1999, total development assistance represented a mere 0.2 per cent of the GNP of the developed countries, down from 0.33 per cent in 1990. In contrast, the Consensus would reaffirm a target for increased direct assistance of 0.7 per cent of the GNP of developed countries.
He said, 0.7 per cent equalled about two-and-a-half days’ production a year to reach the billions of people who needed access to education, jobs and hope; to support strong, productive societies, free of crushing unsustainable debt and able to move forward with democratic and economic reform; and to build stable trading and investment partners, who see that globalization could be inclusive and desirable. The international community had the awareness, the urgency and the strategies. It must now leverage development through the energy of its peoples and through global cooperation.
ABDERRAHMAN YOUSSOUFI, Prime Minister of Morocco, noted the enormous economic disparities in the world, which had led to huge oceans of poverty and small islands of wealth. All were familiar with that harsh reality. Ways and means to obtain the needed resources to achieve sustainable development must be sought. Many international conferences had been held, and recommendations made, but the matter had not yet been satisfactorily addressed. The issue of financing for development must be seen as the most effective way to deal with exclusion, despair and extreme poverty, which could give rise to conflict.
The opportunity must be seized to create a clearly defined strategic vision to devise a plan of action for the developing world, he said, stressing the need to be pragmatic and realistic. He hoped the Conference would take decisions that would lead to greater inclusion of developing countries in decision-making. He called on the international community to increase the amount of ODA as quickly as possible so that the goals set at the Millennium Summit of halving poverty by 2015 could be achieved. Lasting efficient solutions must be sought for the external indebtedness of countries. Trade liberalization must be undertaken fairly and equitably. The development agenda that had emerged from the Doha conference had brought hope to all countries, he noted. Now its goals must be realized.
He said Africa faced major difficulties and deserved priority attention. Thirty-three countries in Africa were among the least developed countries in the world, and the continent was still suffering from several conflicts and heightened tension. Bold steps had been taken to ensure good governance, to build rule of law and to liberalize their economies. He noted the creation of NEPAD, which reflected member countries’ resolve to control their own development. He reiterated his proposal for the creation of a high-level standing body responsible for implementing the decisions taken by the international community to help Africa.
MIGUEL ÁNGEL RODRÍGUEZ ECHEVERRÍA, President of Costa Rica, said the Conference should take a decisive step towards fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals. The countries of the Rio Group realized that, in raising the quality of life, nothing could take the place of responsible work done in each country. Strengthened democracy and the rule of law, the rational use of resources and investment in capital in a free setting with healthy competition were among the elements of the agenda needed to combat poverty. All of that was not sufficient, however, if it was not accompanied by the opening up of markets and the provision of financial support for human development.
He said that export subsidies forced developing countries to compete with artificially low prices, hindering competition and increasingly impoverishing them. The Rio Group would redouble its efforts to ensure that the post-Doha round of trade talks recognized developing countries’ interests, especially with respect to trade in agriculture and labour-intensive goods. It must also be ensured that capital flowed freely and transparently in search of the best opportunities. Latin America continued to face difficulties, including fluctuating flows of financing and insufficient ODA, which had limited the development of projects with a high social benefit. Official development assistance must be reactivated; when a country invested in a sustained and effective manner in education, health and basic human services, the vicious cycle of poverty was broken.
The announcements by the United States and the European Union were welcome, he said. Indeed, rich countries must provide the agreed level of financial support, and developing countries must continue "doing things right" by using financial assistance efficiently and equitably. Forgiving the external debt of poor countries would release resources for development, but only the richest countries should be asked to forgive debt. A system of emergency loans entrusted to the World Bank would resolve many liquidity difficulties, and a system of guarantees by the World Bank and regional development banks for the issuance of bonds with adequate monitoring policies could guarantee better management of national crises by giving central banks immediate access to funds.
RALPH GONSALVES, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Planning, Economic Development, Labour, Information, Grenadines and Legal Affairs of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said that, 18 months ago, political leaders had agreed on a bundle of clearly agreed targets, which focused on a substantial reduction of poverty and illiteracy by 2015. Sadly, if current economic and financial policies were allowed to persist, those targets would not be met by a wide margin.
In the attempt to improve the lives of peoples, "we need all hands on deck", he said. Obligations resided in nations, the international community, corporate entities, non-governmental organizations and in individuals across the world. The international community must leave Monterrey with a renewed commitment to improve the lives of people. The draft Consensus did not satisfy his country entirely, but he embraced the new global deal on the table, which had been presented by the Secretary-General in his The New York Times article of 19 March.
The international financial structures, created in Bretton Woods, ought to be substantially reformed to meet the challenges of a new age, he added. His country was small and poor and, while not among the poorest of the world, it was among the world’s most vulnerable. Much more was required from the international community if small countries such as his were to grapple satisfactorily with trade liberalization and globalization. "Now, more than ever, each person was his brother’s keeper."
STJEPAN MESIĆ, President of Croatia, said engineering and technology were developing at an undreamed of rate. In the process, the gap between the developed and the developing and underdeveloped was increasing at an ever faster rate, and its closing was proving to be increasingly more difficult. In a globalizing world, wealth was globalized, as well as poverty -- that must be ended. Political will must be demonstrated to overcome the division. While it was obvious that in free market conditions all countries could not get the same share of the cake, all countries should get the chance to open up the cycle of their own development.
Underdeveloped countries could not simply open up the development cycle on their own, he said. The developed countries must help, not merely because it was simply inhuman to be a passive witness of conditions in which millions were starving, and thousands and thousands dying of hunger daily, conditions in which millions were condemned not to live but merely to survive. The developed world must also help because misery, poverty and dependence created the environment fostering terrorism. The war against terrorism would yield only temporary and short-term success unless focus was placed on eliminating the environment from which global terrorism originated.
Globalization could not be stopped, but if it was not properly directed, its negative implications would move to the forefront. The globalization of enrichment, on the one hand, and impoverishment, on the other, must be replaced by a globalization of development. "Let us make development a global process and we shall truly lay the foundations of a better world", he said.
TARJA HALONEN, President of Finland, said every country bore the primary responsibility for its economic and social development, but many countries needed outside help to be able to develop, and they must get that help. Growth in global development was crucial in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Finland was committed to the 0.7 per cent target for ODA and, as a first step, would increase its aid to 0.4 per cent by 2007.
Imagination, fresh-mindedness and creativity in finding new sources of financing to supplement ODA were needed, she said. One possibility might be the idea of a global lottery, which was now being examined in Finland. More than four fifths of the foreign capital that developing countries received was private, she noted. Yet at the moment, only a few countries benefited from those capital flows. The task of development was to help especially the least developed countries create the kinds of conditions that would make it possible for them to attract investment.
She said Finland was further increasing its support for technical assistance programmes and urged the international community to quickly implement the measures agreed in the Doha Declaration. No aid would suffice unless the developing countries were able to share in the benefits of globalization. Products and services originating in the developing countries must have the opportunity to gain fair access to markets in the industrial countries. In accordance with the European Union’s "everything but arms" decision.
ION ILIESCU, President of Romania, said that economic and social development was an issue which concerned humanity as a whole. While globalization had sped up economic processes, it had also highlighted the divide between the rich and the poor. The widening of social gaps had become the upsetting reality of today. It was unacceptable that 1 per cent of the world’s wealthiest had revenues higher than 57 per cent of the world’s poor. Over the past 50 years, the global production of goods and services had grown more than seven times, but the gap between rich and poor had widened. The eradication of poverty and the reduction of economic and social gaps remained major goals for all countries, even the rich ones.
The role of the United Nations in formulating answers to economic and social problems faced by developing countries was both necessary and natural, he said. The eradication of poverty and the lessening of development gaps must become the top priority of the international community. The world was becoming more connected and complex. It was clear that protectionism and isolationism would not produce the expected results. There was enough evidence of the negative effects of unregulated trade liberalization.
The scarcity of domestic and external resources was a crucial issue for the transition period in Romania, he added. The country had not yet managed to find the most appropriate ways to attract foreign investment. Without the active support of civil society, no public reforms could succeed. Ensuring complementarity between domestic and external resources was an essential component of his country’s economic policies.
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