(Geneva, 11 May 2009)

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

On behalf of the Group of 77 and China, let me congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, upon assuming the chairmanship at this very first session of the Trade and Development Commission. We have every confidence that this meeting will lead to successful results under your able guidance, and you can rest assured of our Group’s support.

We wish to thank the Secretary-General of UNCTAD for his introductory remarks, in which he identified a number of pertinent issues that we should be addressing in our meeting in the course of this week. The Group is especially pleased with the emphasis he has placed on the need to address the root causes of the current global economic crisis. We acknowledge that without addressing the root causes, there will always be the risk of another crises. Short-term measures may indeed help to mitigate the effects of the crisis, but they will not create the resilience and sustained basis for preventing future crises and promoting broad-based and inclusive development.

Mr. Chairman,

As noted by the Secretary-General, the global financial and economic crisis, coupled with the ongoing challenges in the areas of food, energy and climate change, is presently inflicting severe economic hardships and social problems in most developing countries in all regions, particularly least-developed countries. International trade, one of the engines of economic growth and development finance, has witnessed dramatic declines since late 2008. The World Trade Organization recently forecast that the collapse in global demand brought on by the economic crisis will drive exports down by roughly 9 percent in volume terms in 2009. Similar indications and analyses by other organizations, including UNCTAD, predict a continuation of the recession or anemic growth this year and into 2010. Such a situation not only leaves the lives of our peoples in serious jeopardy, but it also jeopardizes the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, by developing countries.

The Group of 77 and China is therefore pleased to note that the programme of this Meeting includes a high-level session on the impact of the global economic crisis on trade. We share the view that the discussions should be in-depth and geared towards identifying immediate measures that could be undertaken to remedy the impact of the crisis. We also need to perhaps look at a re-thinking and re-focusing of trade and development policy, such as how to promote a more inclusive development policy, how to generate more broad-based growth and the need to promote regional economic integration among developing countries. The Group looks forward to fruitful deliberations during the session with a view to preparing substantive contributions by UNCTAD for the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development, scheduled to be held from 1st to 3rd June 2009 in New York.

We also wish to thank and congratulate the UNCTAD secretariat for preparing its report titled “Global Economic Crisis: Implications for Trade and Development”. This very useful report should help developing countries identify policies and strategies that can serve to restore confidence, build recovery and promote inclusive development, especially in light of the current crisis. We are generally pleased with the report but hope that it will be continually updated and revised throughout the course of this year.

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me to turn to the substantive item of the Commission, namely agenda item 4 on “Energy-Related Issues from the Trade and Development Perspective”. I would like to thank the Secretariat for preparing the background document, which provides us with some key issues to consider in order to improve energy security for fostering development. I wish to highlight a few issues of relevance to our Group.

First, given the imbalance between supply and demand for energy, with the growth in demand exceeding supply, there is a clear need to invest in new sources of conventional and non-conventional energy sources, and to diversify the energy mix, especially toward cleaner and renewable energy. Without adequate energy supply in the future, it goes without saying that the growth and development prospects of developing countries will be largely limited. For this reason, investment into energy is particularly critical. In addition, there is a need to move towards greater energy efficiency measures and industries, with a view to minimizing energy use.

Second, the relationship between energy and climate change poses many important challenges. One such challenge is to promote greater use of renewable energies, such as bio-fuels, while also paying adequate attention to minimizing the impact on food security. Concrete measures in this area can help to build up a process of industrialization and consumption that is climate-friendly and environmentally sustainable. It can also open up new economic and trading opportunities for developing and developed countries alike.

In this regard, the Secretariat’s paper brings home the fact that international cooperation will be of utmost importance in addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities posed by the changing energy paradigms. Such cooperation can include greater transparency and predictability in addressing the oil price fluctuations; increased energy aid; establishing financial mechanisms for new energy technology and infrastructure; improved information on best practices; and strengthened dialogue and partnerships. We look forward to further discussions on these issues during the week ahead.

In this regard, the Group wishes to urge UNCTAD to continue to undertake further work and research on energy as mandated by the Accra Accord. But more importantly, we call on UNCTAD to provide advice and assistance on energy development that can help developing countries gain access to affordable energy and to its efficient use. Such energy should also be available in the quantities necessary to fuel development.

Mr. Chairman,

With regard to the report of expert meetings to be dealt with under agenda item 3, the Group wishes to commend the improvement of these meetings, both in terms of increased level of participation and the quality of outcomes obtained. The Group wishes to see substantive discussions during this meeting which gear towards further expanding on the useful recommendations put forward by the experts with a view to enhance the objectives of UNCTAD as provided for in the Accra Accord.

Similarly, with respect to agenda item 5 on Promoting and Strengthening Synergies among the Three Pillars, the Group is satisfied with the implementation of the Accra Accord so far, as reported in the documents prepared by the Secretariat. Nevertheless, we hope to see the implementation level further enhanced this year, through the valuable guidance from this Commission meeting.

Mr. Chairman,

In closing, I wish to again emphasize that the Group looks forward to fruitful and substantive deliberations throughout the course of this week. We stand ready to engage in a constructive dialogue with a view to achieving the objectives of this meeting.

Thank you.

© The Group of 77