Statement by H.E. Mrs. Laxanachantorn Laohaphan, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, at the G-77 Handover Ceremony Geneva, 20 February 2003

Your Excellency Ambassador Naela Gabr (Egypt),
Excellencies, Distinguished Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First and foremost, I should like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the Government and people of the Kingdom of Thailand, to express to all member countries our sincere appreciation for having entrusted upon Thailand the honour of assuming the chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China in Geneva for this year. While mindful of the challenges and responsibilities of the Chair, it is with great pride and humility that we accept this trust on the part of the member states. We embrace with enthusiasm the opportunity to serve further the purposes and objectives of this important grouping, which embodies the interests and the hopes of the developing world. Thailand has always been deeply committed to the principles and ideals of the Group of 77. Let me assure you that we will spare no effort to further promote, with a sense of purpose, pragmatism and imagination, the collective interests of the 134 members of our Group in the agenda of the year 2003.

At the same time, our efforts however will follow the path set out by previous Chairs of the G-77 chapter in Geneva. In this connection, I would like to pay tribute to the excellent work undertaken by the Arab Republic of Egypt last year, led by Her Excellency Ambassador Naela Gabr and members of her staff. We also wish to commend all our colleagues from the different delegations of the Group of 77 and China for having supported the cause of the developing world and contributed to the process of consensus-building in what was in fact a very difficult and exacting year. On this occasion, I would also like to welcome His Excellency Ambassador Luis Felipe de Seixas Corrêa of Brazil, who as vice-chairman of the Group of 77 this year, will lead the Group in 2004 at a very important time when Brazil will also play host to UNCTAD XI.


2002 was certainly a very busy year due to a number of very important and significant events in the world arena, and here in Geneva. We were witness to two important UN conferences on Financing for Development (Monterrey, 18-22 March 2002) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 26 Aug-4 September 2002). Within the UNCTAD framework, we have been preoccupied with deliberations regarding the restructuring of the inter-governmental machinery and the Mid-term Review of UNCTAD X (Bangkok, 29 April-3 May 2002), and the question of Financing the participation of experts from developing countries and Countries with Economies in Transition in UNCTAD expert meetings. We hope that the agreed decision on this issue adopted in January this year will allow for the needed flexibility to attract additional funds and, together with our development partners, build upon this process and transform it into an arrangement that will become a reliable source of funding for the participation of our experts.

Meanwhile, the most immediate challenge confronting our Group remains our ability to adapt to the forces of globalisation. While globalisation does offer opportunities for development, it has also resulted in increased marginalization of the most vulnerable sectors of society. For many developing countries, especially those with a high external debt burden, the weaknesses of the global economy exerts downward pressures on the prices of many commodities and negatively affect their balance-of-payments position. With increasing oil prices, lower FDI and instability in the global growth outlook, the developing countries face the challenge of how to maintain their national development efforts in the face of increasing challenges and obstacles. It is in this challenging context that the G-77 will have to formulate its policy direction over the coming year.

Implementation and follow-up of the various UN conferences and summits

The adoption last year of the Monterrey Consensus on Finance for Development and the Implementation Plan of the World Summit on Sustainable Development are important milestones in rectifying the imbalances of international structures in the areas of finance, trade, technology and investment, so that globalisation could be beneficial to all. However, what is of central importance is how to translate the many important decisions agreed upon, such as eradication of poverty, increased market access and diversification, promoting FDI and alleviation of the debt burden, into beneficial and concrete actions. The Doha Round has placed development at the heart of negotiations, while Monterrey and Johannesburg reiterated the importance of an integrated approach between monetary, financial, trade and developmental policies, in order to ensure sustainable development.

We wish to applaud the efforts being undertaken within the United Nations system to find an integrated and coordinated approach to the implementation and follow-up of the various UN conferences and summits. We are following with great interest the developments in New York, especially the creation of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Integrated and Coordinated Implementation of and Follow-up to the Outcomes of the Major United Nations Conferences and Summits in the economic and social fields, which has already met earlier this month, and from which many more consultative meetings will proceed.

The Group of 77 in Geneva will seek to have inputs to this Ad hoc Working Group, in order to ensure that issues related to trade and development are considered within the context of existing work undertaken by UNCTAD and other international organizations in Geneva. We hope that the mechanisms for follow-up that have been established will serve to add value and enhance the coordination and implementation aspect of the work undertaken by different agencies, rather than duplicate and replace work already undertaken by the competent bodies.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Turning now to the work programme of the Group of 77 for this year, it is apparent that we will continue to face many challenges that will test our ability to respond and to adapt. While the tasks ahead for us remains boundless, I wish to highlight some of the more pressing issues that we may need to consider.

North-South Dialogue

Reaffirming the role of multilateralism, we should continue to look towards UNCTAD to fulfill its mandate on trade and development. The Group of 77 and China will have to seriously look into the process of inter-governmental work and follow-up on how United Nations Member States and international development partners can better fulfill their respective obligations and commitments to implement the decisions of Brussels (Third UN Conference on LDCs, 14-20 May 2001), Monterrey (Finance for Development) and Johannesburg (Sustainable Development), as well as the objectives of the Millennium Summit Declaration.

The current environment necessitates the adoption of a new cooperative environment, based on partnership and mutual respect. To that effect, we have to continue to promote a dialogue based not only on a spirit of partnership and mutual interests, but also on shared and differential responsibilities related to one’s level of development.

We will have to further explore, at the highest possible level, the means to implement common commitments in development financing, sustainable development and increased access to markets. It has been universally agreed that international trade is the engine that drives the development of a country’s economic and social institutions. With this in mind, we need to address issues of critical importance to developing countries, especially with regard to enhancing income through diversification and competitiveness, marketing and enhanced supply capacities, because the economy of the developing world is dependent on the exports of commodities and natural resources.
Doha Round

We should continue to reiterate our call to developed countries to ensure that the outcome of the multilateral trade negotiations within the World Trade Organization be balanced and take into consideration developing countries’ specific interests. In this connection, we will seek to submit our inputs and concerns on the apparent lack of substantive progress in these areas, in the form of a G-77 Declaration to the WTO Ministerial Mid-term Review in Cancun in September this year. (A similar Declaration was submitted by the G77 in Geneva to the 2001 Doha WTO Ministerial Meeting). We will endeavour to explore and seek views on areas where G77 can contribute to ensure a successful outcome which is balanced and fair, relevant to the developing countries and which ensures sustainable development.

ODA, FDI and Technical Assistance

Official Development Assistance (ODA) plays an essential role as a complement to other sources of financing for development, especially in those countries with the least capacity to attract private direct investment. We will continue to request for assistance in the form of increased ODA, which is important to all our countries and, particularly, to the least developed among us. We welcome with satisfaction the announcements of contributions made by some countries at the Monterrey Conference and the Johannesburg Summit. We will continue to call on developed countries that have not yet done so, to make concrete efforts to reach the agreed ODA target of 0.7% of GNP and devote 0.15 % to 0.20 % of it to the least developed countries.

We should continue to call on the developed countries to adopt incentive measures in order to encourage foreign direct investment and improve development perspectives of developing countries so as to reach growth and sustainable development.

We will reiterate UNCTAD’s important role and experience in capacity-building and technical assistance, especially in areas related to trade and investment-related analysis, enterprise development, devising strategies for SMEs, identifying policy options, competition and diversification etc.


The African continent remains marginalized despite its huge potential. Multiple challenges exist in the form of poverty, disease, political and economic reform and declining commodity prices. The United Nations has already adopted NEPAD (New Partnership for African Development) as a new political framework for cooperation with Africa, recognizing at the same time that its success will depend on the support of donors. NEPAD constitutes a clear and courageous attempt by the African continent to respond to multiple challenges to which the continent is confronted and a resolute will to strengthen regional integration and trade, and deserves our fullest support.
We hope that the creation of the Bureau of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Countries and Small Island Developing States will ensure the effective and coordinated implementation of the new programme of action in favour of LDCs for the decade of 2001-2010. The LDCs, with limited representation in global trade and scarce resources, need increased support in the form of ODA and debt cancellation in order to continue on their path of development. The Group of 77 and China will need to mobilize additional efforts with the international community to attain better provisions for aid and market access, including assistance in capacity-building and diversification, if we are to give them a chance to achieve the Millennium development goals.

Implementation of the Havana Summit Declaration

Dear Colleagues,

Our Heads of State and Government have already agreed at the Havana Summit on priorities for our Group and identified the framework of action. We have to continue our efforts to realise the Havana Plan of Action especially on the important issues of implementation and follow-up, capacity-building, north-south dialogue and south-south cooperation, coordination and strengthening of the G-77 mechanism. We take note and welcome the statements by His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco, who proposed during the Turnover Ceremony of the G-77 in New York last month that Morocco would host a high-level Mid-term review of the Havana Program of Action in 2003. The Meeting will enable the Group of 77 and China to assess the progress in the implementation of the Havana Plan of Action and undertake an evaluation of the changing circumstances and priorities of the international economy.


As you have undoubtedly noticed, my statement does not exhaust the list of all the activities of the Group of 77 and China for the year 2003. Other themes also hold our attention, such as the preparations of the IP Summit in China on 24-26 April and the World Summit on the Information Society on 10-12 December 2003 here in Geneva. The biggest challenge facing us today relates to the diminished role and participation of the South in the global community – a result not only of globalisation and our inability to respond adequately to the changing environment, but also a reflection of the increased complexities of the multilateral trading system. The developing countries are being burdened with decreasing FDI and commodity prices, endemic and pervasive poverty and increased marginalization of their role and standing. This situation is further complicated and made much worse by the rapidly changing rules, priorities and agendas in international fora. The Group of 77 has always been unwavering in its fight to reverse this predicament and together we hope to face these challenges as we embark upon our work for this year.

For its part, Thailand is committed to the overall vision of the Havana Declaration and the full implementation of all the related actions and measures. We believe a united, solid, dynamic and proactive Group of 77 is what we should all strive for. The enormous potentials of the developing South should be harnessed through unity and solidarity towards achieving a more beneficial cooperation with our development partners, and Thailand will spare no efforts in this regard. We consider compliance with agreed commitments a very tangible measuring rod for the success and continuity of the North-South dialogue, and with this in mind we are committed to strengthening our Group’s ability to act as interlocutor for the developing world.


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