(Geneva, 4 May 2009)

Mr. Chairman,
Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD,
Distinguished Delegates,

I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

First of all, I wish to extend our congratulations to you, Mr. Chairman. Rest assured that you have our fullest support and cooperation in working toward the successful outcome of this meeting.

And on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, I would also like to extend our congratulations and warm welcome to the Deputy Secretary-General, Ambassador Petko Draganov.

We also appreciate the report given by the Secretary-General, Dr. Supachai. The facts and figures that he has highlighted, together with his comments, will certainly provide important inputs for our deliberations.

Although this Commission is meeting for the very first time after its establishment last year at UNCTAD XII, its areas of work and responsibility are by no means new.  As we all are well aware, the Commission combines the mandate of the previous Commission on Investment, Technology and Related Financial Issues, with some of the areas of work from the previous Commission on Enterprise, Business Facilitation and Development.  We therefore hope that this newly established Commission will be able to function more efficiently and yield the productive results that we commonly seek.

Mr. Chairman,

Uppermost in our minds is the fact that this first meeting of the Commission takes place against the backdrop of a global economic crisis, which has fully engulfed all parts of the world and whose ramifications seem to intensify by the day.  Among the hardest hit are countries that are least equipped to deal with the crisis.  The crisis has resulted in a marked decline in the global flows of foreign direct investment and a dramatic slowdown in economic activities, including the establishment and development of enterprises.  Unfortunately, the situation is still unfolding and remains fraught with uncertainties ahead, particularly for developing countries.

In light of this, it is crucial that UNCTAD plays an important role in monitoring and analyzing national and international policy developments in the area of investment, particularly from a development perspective.  This will assist developing countries in making informed policy decisions and developing policy options for coping with the adverse effects of the crisis.  This could, to a great extent, be achieved through the deliberations of this Commission.

In this regard, we believe that the main theme of this meeting of the Commission, namely ‘creating an environment conducive to productive capacity-building’, is both timely and appropriate, as productive capacity-building has become more necessary and relevant than ever for developing countries in their developmental efforts, in light of the current crisis.  It is important that our discussions focus on key issues and, more importantly, be action-oriented, as emphasized by the Secretary-General.

Mr. Chairman,

We wish to extend our appreciation to UNCTAD for preparing its report on the impact of the crisis on investment flows in developing countries, as this is a problem of grave concern to the Group as a whole.  To this end, we seek valuable policy recommendations of UNCTAD to assist developing countries in mitigating the impact of the decline of investment inflows on employment as well as on trade. We look forward to receiving updates on the report during the course of other UNCTAD inter-governmental machinery meetings throughout the year.

The Group also wishes to commend UNCTAD for the quality of UNCTAD’s publications on FDI and other investment-related issues.  These have also been of great assistance to developing countries in shaping their policy framework relating to investment.  We specifically look forward to the upcoming World Investment Prospects Survey 2009-2011 and the World Investment Report 2009, which will focus on FDI in agriculture.  This issue is of vital significance to most developing countries, and its analysis by UNCTAD will be extremely useful.

In addition, we wish to also highlight our appreciation for UNCTAD’s work on Investment Policy Reviews (IPRs), which have helped developing countries to create an enabling environment for investment.  We are pleased to see that a total of 25 of such reviews have so far been carried out and hope that more will follow for those countries requesting them.  We welcome the fact that the review process provides for a participatory approach which helps to enhance policy dialogue between member states and relevant stakeholders.  In this regard, we look forward to the presentation and discussion on the Investment Policy Reviews of Nigeria and the Dominican Republic during the course of this Commission.

Mr. Chairman,

The Group wishes to also congratulate UNCTAD for the successful series of multi-year and single-year expert meetings under the domain of this Commission.  These expert meetings have created good opportunities for experts from developing countries, in particular, to learn from one another and share best practices in relation to particular areas of interests.  We therefore look forward to productive discussions at this Commission on how the outcomes of these expert meetings can specifically contribute to UNCTAD’s mandated work and objectives.

Compared with meetings organized in previous years, the Group wishes to note an improvement in these expert meetings, although more must continually be done to keep fine-tuning them.  We wish to highlight especially the Multi-Year Expert Meeting on Investment for Development, which saw an exceptionally high record of participation.  In addition, the innovative approach of engaging in an interactive discussion without panelists appears to have been very useful, lively and interesting.  However, the Group wishes to point out that there is no one-size-fits-all formula with regard to the format of the meeting, as this is an evolutionary process to find the right mix between panelists and interactive debate.  Therefore, we wish to encourage the UNCTAD secretariat, while organizing future expert meetings, to limit the number of panelists and further promote interactive debate, with a view to achieving pragmatic, practical and implementable solutions rather than being a purely theoretical exercise.

Having highlighted the importance of these expert meetings, we wish to again stress the importance of adequate participation by experts from developing countries, and particularly least-developed countries, in expert meetings, so that UNCTAD’s substantive work may sufficiently address the concerns and priorities of those countries.  We know these are difficult times financially for many countries, but still we wish to request the Secretary-General of UNCTAD to redouble his efforts to secure more funding for this purpose and urge member states in a position to do so to respond favourably to such efforts.
Mr. Chairman,

In closing, this meeting of the Commission represents a unique opportunity for member states as well as investment and development stakeholders to discuss key and emerging investment issues along with their development implications and policy solutions.  In light of this, the Group looks forward to fruitful and substantive deliberations throughout the course of this week, and we stand ready to coordinate with our developed partners in order to achieve the objectives of this meeting.

Thank you.

© The Group of 77