Ladies and Gentlemen:
Exactly one year ago, I had the pleasure to address the WAIPA V Conference in Bangkok and I am very pleased to meet you again in Geneva on the occasion of your 2001 Annual Meeting. These two events, by themselves, say a great deal on the involvement of WAIPA in promoting awareness of the urgent need to place development issues at the forefront of the international agenda. But they are not the only ones through which WAIPA has taken an active role. I wish to recall here that WAIPA, along with other organisations with a similar vocation, was instrumental at UNCTAD X, held in Thailand last year, in defining and updating the mandate of UNCTAD at the dawn of this new century.
In Bangkok, during WAIPA V, we were all reminded of the fact that some industrialised countries, with highly sophisticated economies and impressive rates of growth, were not so long ago in a lesser fortunate state. The presentation by the Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland, Ms. Mary Harney, on Ireland´s miraculous economic development during the past few decades, brought out to all of us the importance both of an appropriate national strategy for economic development and of the role that foreign direct investment can play in building a new modern economy. This is an example that could inspire our work and become a source of optimism. I am pleased that WAIPA offers the opportunity to take on that experience and advance our knowledge in the field of investment promotion.
The importance of this meeting can best be perceived by placing it in a historical perspective. It takes place at the eve of a major event for which UNCTAD has been designated focal point. I am referring to the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries to be held in Brussels from 14 to 20 May 2001. In the preparations for this Conference, which are already at an advanced and promising stage, we rely on our partner organisations, those of course, of the United Nations family, but also on those stemming directly from civil society, like WAIPA, to make LDC III a success in terms of concrete results and practical solutions to the challenges faced by the least developed countries. WAIPA could play a major role in these endeavours by sharing the experiences of its member agencies, which come from over 100 different countries, including twenty-four least developed countries and thirteen OECD member countries.
The subject of your conference cannot be more relevant to the development agenda and in particular to that of the LDCs. Cross-border investment is indeed a driving force in the world economy, and has contributed to modern globalisation. Cross-border investment could, moreover, if properly channelled, contribute to overcome the evident shortcomings that globalisation has in its present form. I would like to note in this connection that UNCTAD was requested at its tenth session to study existing home country measures that could be considered in programmes to support efforts of developing countries to attract foreign direct investment. An UNCTAD Expert Group Meeting on home country measures was thus organised in November last year. At that meeting, best practices in the area of home country measures were identified, as well as factors that could contribute to the increased effectiveness of those measures. The Expert Meeting also underlined the important role of WAIPA in the exchange of information on investment promotion.
On Tuesday afternoon, the UNCTAD Commission on Investment, Technology and Related Financial Issues will address the topic. "Home country measures" and present the outcomes of the Expert Group Meeting. The debate will greatly benefit from the participation of WAIPA at that session of the Commission.
Before closing, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Ms. Patricia Francis and the new Steering Committee with their election. I wish you, Madam President, success in your assignment and trust that the Association will continue to grow under your leadership.
Let me wish you all a very successful Conference.