Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen!
Today, on behalf of the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia, I would like to warmly welcome Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen at the “Least Developed Countries Ministerial Conference” which is taking place in Siem Reap, the wonder historical land of Angkor of Cambodia.
I am of the view that this ministerial conference is being held timely and it underscores the necessity and importance of which all Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen who are the Minister of Industry and Commerce Ministries of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), have to cite and provide policy recommendations on a number of urgent issues regarding to trade and globalization facing all our countries. Our presence at this conference is an evidence of the strong determination and active participation to address all the above mentioned challenges and to achieve a sustainable development aiming at reducing poverty across the world.
This conference is being held in time when the world is facing severe economic crisis. As we are aware that this crisis started when private credit providers have lost confidence on the righteousness of some financial institutions in the United States of America. Gradually, this crisis has spread throughout the whole US financial system. Hence, the US government had to take rescue measure for the whole banking system, and indeed they had unveiled and adopted the $700 billion USD bailout plan in order to revamp capital foundation of banks in the US.
This financial crisis then spread very rapidly to Japan and some European countries making the government of those countries struggle to rescue their banks. For last several weeks the whole financial situation is becoming a huge challenge to be addressed. Countries like Ireland, Ukraine and Hungary are seeking supports from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for urgent source of financing to save their banking systems. Furthermore, this crisis has already had adverse impact on the some developed countries’ economic growth, and at the same time other countries will also suffer the impact of this financial crisis or at least facing the economic slow down. This crisis will inevitably bring about world economic slow down.
Separately, the least developed countries are also severely suffering from the crisis due to the fact that our FDI is from the crisis-stricken countries, although our banking system is not directly interlinked with the complexity of such financial transactions. Credit crunch in those investing countries will further disturb the investment in their countries, which in turn makes them hard to finance investment projects in our countries. Moreover, a huge amount of money that the LDCs had used to bail out their banking systems will inevitably affect their commitment of providing official cooperative development financing to the LDCs. The economic downturn in those developed countries had a direct impact on the export market of the LDCs because the demand for our exports and their prices have dropped.
In overall, we noted that this is a hard time for the LDCs. Indeed, we can expect that the international economic climate will calm down some times in the future. This will allow us to realize the importance of increasing our effort to reap maximum benefit from the world economic integration by taking it as a mean to sustain economic growth and accelerate poverty eradication. Furthermore, we must seek any possible ways to take prompt action to meet our Millennium Development Goals that is to be achieved by 2015. I see that international trade and finance activities still remains the essential tools to achieve those goals despite having faced many obstacles.
In this regards, we must put more efforts to make our economy more competitive within the international trade framework by critically examining those factors that could raise the cost of export and try to reduce or eradicate those factors that could affect our trade. In parallel, we must also adopt trade policies and trade facilitation framework which are designed to expand our export base.
However, at the multilateral level we must keep in mind that the Doha Declaration of 2001 has clearly highlighted the necessity of giving preferential treatment to developing countries, while the WTO is preparing other new round of negotiations. Through this we believe that at least the international community is tackling poverty reduction and ensuring that the benefits from globalization are being allocated equitably and efficiently.
As we already know, the WTO negotiation is at the cross-road now because the negotiation has made no progress and was postponed due to the disagreement and lack of flexibility among key stakeholders in the negotiation. This makes the enormous hope that was envisaged in the Doha Declaration hard to materialize. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that the LDCs must send another clear message to the international communities, especially to key players in the negotiation process of the WTO in order to ensure that the negotiation result must be in conformity to the principle of free and fair trade of the WTO, which is the heart of the development. In this connection, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for the bright future of our people, I see that the world trade system must be capable of dealing with the challenges and ascertaining the essential interests of the LDCs. Furthermore, the cooperative financing and debt relief shall be utilized to promote the development of the least developed countries. In this context, I fully support the intention of H.E. Director-General of the WTO to convene a meeting of all WTO members to resume the negotiation as soon as possible.
Foreign direction investment is the external source of financing and the key knowledge and know-how. Therefore, the least developed countries must make further effort to attract foreign private capital. Although the world is facing the current financial crisis we must ensure a transparent, stable, and feasible business climate for our mutual benefit. On the other hand, the main source of foreign financing for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) is the flow of the official development cooperative financing. In this connection, it is necessary for us to use various international forums to encourage the developed nations to increase such financing.
Along with that, the approval of the Akra’s agenda for action plan implementation, held during the review meeting last September on the Paris Declaration of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which has been reported in the summit on the Millennium Goals of the United Nations in New York, is the encouragement for us all.
In particular, all pledges made at that time were to solve significant challenges in order to speed up the pace of development on the efficiency of the cooperative grants, which encouraged the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to recognize their crucial roles with responsibility of the Government in order to ensure ownership of the host countries during the process of building partnership with efficiency for development, to fully link between energy, skills and experiences of all development actors including the bilateral and multilateral cooperative grants providing countries, universal fund, civil society and the private sector as well as to increase the predictability of cooperative grants in the medium term.
In fact, these commitments have pushed all developing countries to prepare their own action plan by setting ahead the controllable times and proposals to implement the Paris Declaration and agenda of the Akra action plan.
I reckon that these are the significant concepts which require us to organize this Ministerial Conference. At the present time, the initiative on the cooperative financing for trade is one of the results among other which relates to the positive progress of the Doha negotiation. This cooperative financing for trade have attracted further attention, especially since the declaration of the 6th Ministerial Conference of World Trade Organization, which requires various countries to create such cooperative financing in an attempt to increase their own capacity in implementing all WTO agreements as well as building their own ability to response to the supply sector until they can actually gain benefit from expanding the export markets.
Along with that the attention paid to the Trade Related Technical Assistance (TRTA) for LDCs has speeded up the creation of the framework of trade integration for TRTA, raised up during the 1st Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Singapore in 1996. At the same time, the Doha development agenda in 2001 has also adopted the trade integration framework by considering it as “an applicable model for Trade Development in Least Developed Countries”. On the other hand, based on the successful result of the conference on pledges for trade integration project conducted in Stockholm in September 2007, where a number of our development partners were committed to providing the sources of capital for realizing this initiative. In this spirit, I believe that the establishment of the Secretariat to implement the trade integration program and the launch of the program to promote the trade integration framework last month, shaped by H.E. Director General of the World Trade Organization, was remarkably importance.
The Ministerial Conference of the LDCs will welcome all pledges made by the United Nations for Industry Development Organization (UNIDO), World Trade Organization (WTO) and other institutions of the United Nations such as United Nations Development Programs (UNDP), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Trade Center (ITC) in order to ensure the quick implementation of the cooperative financing for trade, which is one of the processes to promote economic growth in the LDCs through trade related production capacity building. This welcome also expected to involve the active roles of the regional committees of the United Nations such as the African Economic Committee and Socio-economic Committees of the United Nations, Multilateral Financing Institutions and regional financial development institutions such as the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank as well as various bilateral development partners in order to complement this initiative. Moreover, this conference is expected to have the result of discussion on various pilot programs of the trade integration framework for all 8 LDCs including Banin, Cambodia, Lao, Lesotho, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal and Yemen. In particular, Cambodia is well prepared to share its hope and experiences.
Along with this, I am delighted by the presence of the representatives from various UN’s agencies. This presence will further boost the consensus on the UN’s implementation processes in this conference. As you are all aware that the demand for cooperative financing for trade is very high, especially in training and capacity building sectors. To ensure the effectiveness of cooperative financing for trade, we must acknowledge that it requires multi-sector methods and cooperation since no single institution has adequate resources or capacity to address these issues. Therefore, all the capacity-based efforts of these institutions will ensure the implementation of the Aid for Trade initiative.
Following the adoption of cooperative financing for trade by our working group 2 years ago, we can come to sit together today to exchange our visions and priority plans for cooperative financing for trade. We must also link our efforts to the actual circumstances and the ability to address the poor people’s issues. Understanding the short-term and long-term relationship between trade and poverty, as well as the issue of gender inequality which is behind this relationship, will help us to address these challenges through the transformation of trade into a strong catalyst for poverty reduction. We must exert all efforts to ensure that cooperative financing for trade becomes a strong catalyst for development.
Indeed, some notable achievements have been realized over the past years; however, more major challenges are awaiting us. Therefore, we must move forward on the right path for today and tomorrow, by actively participating in the formulation and agreement of comprehensive methods to help the supply sector in LDCs.
Finally, once again, I would like to show my appreciation to H.E. Mr. Yumkella Kandeh, Director-General of the UNIDO;H.E. Mr. Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the WTO, and all organizers of this conference as well as all institutions helping the LDCs for your sacrifice, confidence and commitment in the cause of development of LDCs.
May this conference be successful and produce great outcomes; and I would also like to wish Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen a safe and very happy stay in the land of Angkor.
Now, I would like to declare the opening of this conference.