"The WTO´s presence here today bears witness to how rapidly our worlds have converged", the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Mr. Renato Ruggiero, stated today in addressing the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board. His view was shared by Mr. Rubens Ricupero, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, who saw in the participation in the Board´s session of Mr. Ruggiero, as well as the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, Mr. Denis Belisle, a demonstration of their "determination to join hands in working for the cause of development through trade and other instruments that are essential for that goal". The three organizations were combining their resources so as to produce better service for member States, particularly in the developing world.
Mr. Ruggiero explained that the convergence between WTO and UNCTAD was evidenced in regular meetings between the heads of the two organizations, joint research projects, co-ordinated technical assistance, and generally a more intense working relationship at all levels of the organizations. For him, these cooperative arrangements reflected the fact that "the vision of economic progress has itself become a global one".
So had the multilateral trading order. "We are no longer writing the rules of interaction among separate national economies. We are writing the constitution of a single global economy", he declared. The clearest manifestation of this new phenomenon, Mr. Ruggiero said, was the growing role of the developing countries in international trade and in the system governing it, as shown by their membership of WTO and also in the staff of the WTO secretariat.
In a plea for national economies in the developing world to be more open externally, the Director-General of WTO stated: "No one stands to benefit more from the globalization of economic activity than developing countries." Globalization had "rewritten the ground rules of economic growth, providing countries once relegated to "third world" status, with the tools to fast-forward their development". These included access to developed country services, investment and technology.
"The question is where - not whether - work on trade and investment should take place"
Mr. Ruggiero argued that there was already a consensus on a close linkage between development, trade and investment. Further he said there was consensus on the importance of this issue and the need to study it further.
"The question is where - not whether - this work should take place," he told the Trade and Development Board. While some suggested it be handled only in UNCTAD, others were pressing for a role for the WTO. In reality, he said, the secretariats of UNCTAD and of the WTO were already working very closely in analysing the issue of investment.
Mr. Ruggiero also informed the Board about the success of the joint trade-related technical assistance programmes of WTO, UNCTAD, and the ITC, for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and other countries in Africa. He also pledged his strong commitment to strive for the early implementation of those ministerial decisions adopted in Marrakech in favour of the LDCs.
Mr. Ricupero will represent the United Nations at Singapore
Mr. Ricupero announced that at the request of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Boutros Boutros Ghali, he would represent the United Nations at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Singapore, from 9-13 December, 1996. He said he was convinced that the current session of the Board could contribute to a positive achievement in Singapore, by seeking a balance in international trade, keeping up the momentum in favour of the opening-up of the trading system of developing countries, and ensuring increasing access for these countries to the markets of industrialized countries.
The Secretary-General of UNCTAD commended the WTO Director-General for his leadership in endeavours to strengthen the presence of developing countries, and the LDCs in particular, in international trade.