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Statements in International Organisations


UNCTAD - Commission on Enterprise, Business Facilitation and Development (Geneva, 4- 5 February 2008)

Opening Statement on Behalf of the European Union by Martina Lodrant, Third Secretary, Permanent Mission of Slovenia

I. Introductory And General Remarks

I have the honour to take the floor on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia , the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as Georgia align themselves with this declaration.

I congratulate you, Mr Chairman, as well as the members of the Bureau on your election. I wish you success in carrying out your responsibilities and assure you of the full support and active participation of the European Union in this session. We trust that our collective efforts will result in substantive discussions that will also inform the ongoing UNCTAD XII PrepCom process.

We see as the main objective of this year's Commission sessions the stocktaking and assessment of the work accomplished under the auspices of each of them not only over the last year but in the four years since the last ministerial conference. In addition, it is an opportunity for an in-depth exchange of views on some key themes of direct relevance to UNCTAD XII. In the case of this particular session, we are looking forward to a discussion on the subject of transport, logistics and global value chains.

The EU would like to stress that, in view of the upcoming Conference the aim of which is to set the mandate and programme of work of this organization for the next four years, we should not endeavour to negotiate any forward-looking conclusions on the work of UNCTAD and on future expert meetings as this would amount to prejudging the outcome of the Conference. To the extent that new insights will emerge from the discussion, and we hope they will, members should, as appropriate, bring them into the UNCTAD XII PrepCom process that will resume immediately after we conclude all sessions of the three Commissions.

II. Item 3: Transport, Logistics and global value chains

Mr Chairman,

With respect to agenda item 3, let me first welcome the interdivisional cooperation within the secretariat in the important work on trade logistics and the integration of SMEs into the global value chains. SMEs are key generators of employment growth. Their competitiveness and ability to participate in international production systems depend on the existence of an enabling business environment of which adequate infrastructure, trade facilitation and efficient trade and transport-related services are all critical components.

The EU agrees that there are formidable challenges that SMEs in some developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and in developing land-locked countries, face in this regard and they are well described in the background note of the secretariat for this session (TD/B/COM.3/84). It is important to stress that the imperative to improve the enabling environment in its institutional, legal and administrative dimension, implies first and foremost a national responsibility for these countries themselves. We fully concur with the report on the importance of ensuring as basic conditions predictability, accountability and reliability for traders and investors. In the area of trade logistics, we welcome the report's recognition of the substantial potential for trading cost reduction from trade facilitation but at the same time note with some disappointment that the ongoing negotiations on trade facilitation in the WTO have not been mentioned in the policy response section. In this regard the EU encourages UNCTAD to continue to play an active role in the collective effort with other international organisations mentioned in the Trade Facilitation Negotiating Modalities in Annex D of the WTO General Council Decision of 1 August 2004 to fulfil the mandate to make technical assistance and capacity building more effective and operational. As regards infrastructure development, it is important to continue to study the potential and modalities for greater private sector participation in its financing. We look forward to the World Investment Report 2008 on the topic of FDI in infrastructure. Under policy responses, we would also stress the potential for gains in terms of trade performance from services liberalization in sectors such as transport, logistics, construction, financial services and telecommunications.

The EU, for its part, is engaging on a number of fronts to assist national efforts of developing countries in trade logistics areas. As part of our development cooperation we have been running many trade facilitation technical assistance programmes and we are committed to do more, particularly, as demanded by many developing countries, with a view to the successful implementation of a new set of WTO provisions in this area and the trade facilitation chapters in the Economic Partnership Agreements with the ACP countries. The EU has undertaken ambitious commitments on Aid for Trade, promising to increase the collective volumes of such assistance to €2 billion by 2010. It adopted its Aid-for-Trade Strategy in October 2007 and we are currently preparing the solutions regarding its operationalization. Trade regulation and trade facilitation measures will be one of the major focuses in this framework including regional as well as country-to-country approaches. With its African counterparts, the EU has also established a Partnership for African Infrastructure which features such innovative financial instruments as the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund, subsidizing loans for investments promoting interconnections at the regional and continent-wide levels in the transportation, water, energy, information technology and communications sectors.

III. Item 4: Reports of expert meetings

a) Expert meeting on regional cooperation in transit transport: solutions for landlocked and transit developing countries

Mr Chairman,

regarding agenda item 4 we have read with interest the report of the expert meeting on regional cooperation in transit transport (TD/B/COM.3/EM.30/3). The EU welcomes the attention given by UNCTAD to identifying cooperative solutions to the specific trade disadvantages of landlocked developing countries which also take due account of the interests of transit countries and create win-win situations. We strongly support the conclusion that regional, bilateral and local transit arrangements should as much as possible build on the multilateral framework. The meeting also produced a number of other useful points for consideration in the design of new schemes, or in the reform of existing ones, to make them compatible with the most widely accepted standards and best practices in transit transport operations. Let me also take this opportunity to say that the EU is looking forward to the mid-term review of the Almaty Programme of Action which should shed light on the present situation and define specific future actions and measures aimed at further improvement of cooperation between landlocked and transit developing countries.

b) Expert meeting on increasing the participation of developing countries' SMEs into global value chains

The EU also welcomes the report of the experts meeting on increasing the participation of developing countries' SMEs into global value chains (TD/B/COM.3/EM.31/3). The case studies by UNCTAD and OECD enabled a very practical discussion and a number of policy conclusions that deserve further attention and examination. We would be interested in more analysis, including from UNCTAD, on how SMEs operating in the informal sector can be formalized. The EU also shares the experts' opinion that the situation of women entrepreneurs in African business environment requires special attention. In this context, the EU especially welcomes the initiatives focused on assisting women-owned enterprises to access business development services, such as the entrepreneurship training services provided by EMPRETEC.

IV. Item 5: Implementation of the recommendations of the Commission, including an assessment of the work of the Commission, since UNCTAD XI

Mr Chairman,

under the final substantive item let me first thank the secretariat for the progress report on the implementation of agreed conclusions of the previous Commission session and the assessment of the work under this Commission since UNCTAD XI (TD/B/COM.3/85). We see this report and the discussion on it as important basis for further refining our positions for UNCTAD XII, both with respect to the future work programme for UNCTAD as well as the institutional dimension, particularly the role of Commissions.

While it is clear from the report that a large number of diverse activities have been undertaken based on the Sấo Paulo Consensus and subsequent Commission recommendations, we would have liked it to provide more in terms of assessment of the quality of their outputs and the extent to which these outputs translated into impacts. We invite the secretariat to gear its oral presentation to the Commission towards these aspects. We would also like to hear about any particular difficulties encountered in discharging the mandates given by the last Conference and elaborated by this Commission as well as on the inter-divisional cooperation and cooperation with outside organizations and actors in this regard. We also have some more specific questions which I will put to the secretariat during the discussion of this item, provided they will not have been answered by the secretariat's oral report.

Mr Chairman,

this concludes my initial statement. I look forward to interactive discussions under the agenda items of this session. On behalf of the EU, I will join them with further inputs, in an interactive manner. Thank you for your attention.


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Date: 07.02.2008