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Opening Statement by Ambassador of Uruguay and Chair of the 46th JAG session (en)

22 mai 2012
ITC Nouvelles

Speech by H.E. Mr. Francisco Pírez Gordillo, Ambassador, Permanent Representative to the WTO, Permanent Mission of Uruguay.
Delivered on Day One of the 46th Session of the ITC JAG, 21-22 May 2012.
Monday, 21 May 2012, 10:10-10:20.

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Excellencies, Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good morning and welcome to this 46th session of the International Trade Centre Joint Advisory Group. I am very pleased and most honoured to have the opportunity to chair the Joint Advisory Group, and I would like to thank Ambassador Badr for his opening remarks and for his warm welcome.

I am looking forward to our discussions over the next two days and I hope that during these turbulent economic times, the international community will provide the support to ITC that it needs to continue its important work within the global Aid for Trade agenda.  

Let me begin by thanking Mr Pascal Lamy, the Director General of the WTO for hosting this meeting once again in these premises. I would like to welcome Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary General of UNCTAD and Ms Patricia Francis, Executive Director of ITC.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. Recent history has demonstrated that times of political and economic crisis are times of transition, moments to be seized in a proactive way. The path to development is fraught with multiple and complex challenges. Individually, countries may feel powerless, but collectively we can look beyond short-term consequences and disillusionment, beyond quick-fix solutions, in an attempt to respond to these challenges and reach out to those who need it the most. The Arab Spring, as highlighted by Ambassador Badr in his welcome address, has demonstrated that solidarity and a genuine, in-depth understanding of mutual interest are essential in times of political and economic uncertainty.

In my own region, Latin America, export growth over the last two years has been remarkable: our exports surged by 27% in 2010 and 23% in 2011. Much of this, however, has been the result of increases in the prices of commodities and raw materials, rather than in export volumes or diversification. Even more worryingly, Europe, our second largest export market, continues to be vulnerable. So while the headline growth figures may be impressive at first sight, we cannot rest on our laurels. Cooperation towards intra-regional trade, which could help us in diversifying our economies, represents an untapped opportunity, making up just 20% of our exports - less than half the rate in Asia. As ITC’s Annual Report, Strategic Plan and Consolidated Programme Document, which we will be debating today and tomorrow, attest, ITC recognizes the importance of this issue and has created numerous projects to facilitate growth in regional trade and joint prosperity, with a special emphasis to assisting LDCs.

Excellencies, Distinguished participants. If we work together as members of the international community, we can collectively transform the challenges that face us today into opportunities for developing countries, particularly LDCs, the most vulnerable. This was the message ITC carried to recent high level meetings of its parent organizations, the WTO’s Ministerial conference last December and the Unctad XIII conference last month.

ITC, no doubt, has an important role to play in assisting least developed countries in overcoming their challenges, while at the same time also providing assistance to middle income countries in the important areas of trade intelligence and transparency, capacity building of their export ready enterprises and trade support institutions and the enhancement of trade policy so that it serves rather than hinders exports.
With its unique expertise, accumulated through years of engaging with valuable partners, with the WTO, UNCTAD, the Enhanced Integrated Framework, the World Bank and regional development banks in numerous partnerships in the field, with governments, trade support institutions, and the private sector, ITC has significantly contributed to developing human capital and skills in the developing world, to supporting the private sector and growing SMEs in the most vulnerable economies, to promoting inclusive development and shared sustainable growth at both county and regional level. ITC encourages and facilitates dialogue between the private sector and governments to assist LDCs in their endeavor to accede the WTO, for which it has earned the recognition of the WTO General Council in December.

Excellencies, Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen. None of this work could be possible without the renewed confidence of the International Community, and none of this would be possible without the voluntary support of those countries and multilateral donors that have contributed significant amounts to the ITC trust fund. Your Excellencies, distinguished delegates, these contributions have grown over the years, and they have continued to grow in times of crisis. Tomorrow, I will have the privilege to invite you to announce the extra-budgetary contributions of your respective countries to the ITC trust fund for the years to come.

Let me now come back to the immediate objective of this meeting, which is to discuss ITC’s work programme as described in the Annual Report for 2011 and the future of the institution as outlined in the Strategic plan for 2012-2015, ITC’s proposed new strategic framework as well its proposed work programme for the next two years described in the Consolidated Programme Document. Please refer to the Provisional Programme which you have in front of you.

This morning, Mr. Lamy, Dr. Supachai and Ms Patricia Francis, Executive Director of ITC will address the Group. Within the context of her opening speech, Ms Francis will introduce the Annual Report on the activities of ITC in 2011.

This will be followed by a financial update, presented by the Director of Programme Support, Mrs Eva K. Murray and by a presentation of ITC’s Strategic plan for 2012-2015 and ITC’s new corporate logframe by Mr Jean-Marie Paugam, Deputy Executive Director of ITC.

As you can see from the programme, at 11:30 delegations will have the opportunity to make interventions of a general nature related to the discussion on the agenda items that will have been addressed by ITC this morning. Please note that discussions on the Annual Report and the Strategic plan will continue after lunch, as of 3 p.m.

After these discussions we will show ITC’s new interactive video. And, at the end of todays’ session ITC will be hosting a cocktail in the lobby of the Salle William Rappard to which all participants are invited. During this coktail, we will celebrate ITC’s cooperation with ISO, one of its key multilateral partners.    

Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., Mr Friedrich von Kirchbach, Director of the Division of Country Programmes, will present the Consolidated Programme Document for 2012-2013.

Discussions will continue after the presentation and will be followed, at 11:30, by the announcement of voluntary contributions to the ITC trust fund. 

In the afternoon, beginning at 3:00 p.m., we will have an informal session on ITC’s innovative trade support institution Benchmarking Programme moderated by Ms Aicha Pouye, Director of the Division of Business and Institutional Support.

And at the end of the day, the distinguished members of this assembly will be asked to adopt the Draft Report of the 46th Session of the Joint Advisory Group.

Before I give the floor to Mr. Pascal Lamy, may I ask if there are any delegations who wish to add another item to the agenda of this meeting under other business?