Government officials who met in UNCTAD, from 5 to 8 February, set out their views on UNCTAD´s role in the general examination of the implications of globalization for the international trading system, as well as its specific role related to future negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO). These discussions took place within the UNCTAD Ad Hoc Working Group on Trading Opportunities in the New Trading Context. The Ad Hoc Working Group adopted a set of recommendations (TD/B/WG.8/L.4) for action by Governments at the national and international levels, as well as in UNCTAD.
The implications of globalization for the international trading system will be part of the debate at UNCTAD IX. In addition, UNCTAD has been invited by the General Assembly (resolution 50/95 of 20 December 1995) to transmit its assessment on challenges and opportunities arising from the Uruguay Round Agreements from a development perspective to the first Ministerial Conference of the WTO, which will be held in Singapore. In this respect, the recommendations state that "a deeper analysis of the implications of globalization and liberalization could consider the extent to which the concepts currently governing trade among nations were still valid tools to deal with today´s realities".
Defining areas for future work, the Ad Hoc Working Group recommends that "UNCTAD should continue to analyse the impact of the implementation of the Uruguay Round Agreements, and follow closely developments in the multilateral trading system, with a view to providing policy-oriented recommendations from a development perspective". This included identification and assessment of new trading opportunities. UNCTAD´s analysis of the implications of the new multilateral disciplines "should help to identify effective national and international measures, incentives and policies to foster export-oriented growth and industrial development that were consistent with the new multilateral rules".
The recommendations stress that "UNCTAD should concentrate on the examination of the real challenges facing the developing countries with respect to trading opportunities". These are threefold: "first, to continue the process of identifying the trading opportunities achieved in the Uruguay Round to ensure their maximum benefit to developing countries; second, to identify where future multilateral action was necessary to improve such opportunities, including in the context of the built-in agenda of the multilateral trade agreements; and third, to foresee the challenges of key issues of trade and development, including an early warning perspective, in a rapidly changing world".
UNCTAD has a role to play also in promoting the full integration of economies in transition, and of other countries, into the world economy and the elimination of discriminatory measures against them.
The Ad Hoc Working Group welcomed the recent agreement between the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Mr. Rubens Ricupero, and the Director-General of WTO, Mr. Renato Ruggiero, aimed at strengthening their cooperation and called for similar initiatives with other relevant international organizations.
The recommendations aimed at Governments at the national and international levels call for the full and early implementation of the Uruguay Round commitments, in particular those of interest to developing countries and economies in transition. For countries seeking accession to the WTO the "non-market economy" provisions of trade legislation should be phased-out as they move to the market economy.
The Ad Hoc Working Group had an extensive discussion on the implications of the new contingency protection measures. It recognized that developing countries and economies in transition need assistance in improving their understanding of the domestic legislation of importing countries implementing the Agreements on safeguards, anti-dumping, subsidies and countervailing measures. Moreover, ways and means of reducing the costs of procedures for developing countries should be explored.
The United States delegation dissociated itself from the outcome of the Ad Hoc Working Group, including its recommendations, all of which it considered being far from reality.
These recommendations will be transmitted to the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board, which will meet later this month, for consideration by the Committee of the Whole which was set up to prepare for UNCTAD IX.