(Geneva, 14 September June 2009)

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

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

First and foremost, allow me to extend our most profound appreciation to His Excellency Ambassador Djani of Indonesia, the outgoing President of the Trade and Development Board.

Ambassador Djani took up his post mid-way, but in spite of that, he has impressed us by the level of dedication and commitment, and especially his leadership. Many accomplishments come to mind. These include his hard work in putting together the first ever UNCTAD public symposium on the financial crisis, which was both timely and of great success, and his active participation in a number of important meetings on behalf of all Member States, such as the Committee on Sustainable Development. These are but two examples of his concrete achievements which we all recognize and very much appreciate.

Mr. Chairman, may I also extend our warmest congratulations to you and all the members of the new bureau. I have witnessed first hand how committed you are to a number of development issues. I am therefore confident that you will be able to provide the needed strong leadership for us to move forward. You can rest assured of our Group’s strong support and cooperation in your endeavour.

The Group of 77 and China also wishes to thank and congratulate the UNCTAD Secretary-General for his continued efforts to ensure that UNCTAD remains relevant to the ever changing, ever increasing challenges of development. As he enters his second term, we are confident that he would bring greater dynamism and commitment to bear in the tasks ahead. We wish to also thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report, which has raised a number of important issues that we need to focus on in the cause of our meeting.

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Colleagues,

This 56th Session of the Trade and Development Board is of great importance, for it marks the 45th anniversary of UNCTAD, and it also marks the 45th anniversary of the creation of the Group of 77 and China.

At this special anniversary session, inasmuch as we celebrate the past, we should also be forward-looking in order to address the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, especially the opportunities and challenges arising out of the current economic and financial crisis.

Over the years, UNCTAD has played a critical role in the development efforts of developing countries. UNCTAD can indeed and must continue to play an important role in advancing the frontiers of development, while also translating these ideas into concrete action. Most importantly, UNCTAD should concentrate on advancing new and pragmatic policy responses to assist developing countries in addressing the multifaceted challenges of development, especially now at a time when we are still confronted with the global economic and financial crisis, as well as the continuing effects of the food and energy crises.

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me now to emphasize some issues which our Group believes to merit special attention during this session of the TDB.

First, we believe that UNCTAD has a povital role to play in the follow-up to major conferences and summits on development, including the preparations for the 4th United Nations Conference on the Least-Developed Countries. In our view, the contributions of UNCTAD’s three pillars to the follow-up to the Financing for Development Conference are a model of what we would like to see in the future. The Group wishes to also note that next year is an especially important one, as we will see the MDG Review Conference, preparations for the UN Conference on LDCs, as well as the follow-up process for the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development. We wish to see the expansion of an agenda item at the next regular session of the TDB focusing on the follow-up to major conferences and summits. This will enable all of us to have ample opportunity to discuss UNCTAD’s role in this regard.

Second, Mr. Chairman, we are greatly encouraged by the establishment of the new unit within the Secretariat to carry out work on regional integration and South-South cooperation, which is one of the pre-eminent areas of UNCTAD’s work. We wish to again emphasize that South-South cooperation should be used as a means to complement, rather than to retract from, North-South cooperation. In this regard, we believe that innovative thinking on how to expand South-South cooperation, while at the same time maintaining the important contribution of North-South cooperation to development, is of great importance.

Third, it is incumbent upon UNCTAD to transform ideas and suggestions on how to address the special needs and concerns of Africa, Least-Developed Countries, and the most vulnerable countries, into real actions. We have had active discussions on these key issues in various meetings in the past, and yet the problems remain unresolved. We believe that this session of the TDB is an appropriate opportunity to further examine what could and should be done, as well as how to strengthen UNCTAD’s work in this area.

Last but no less important, the Group attaches high priority to the needs of the Palestinian people and the building of the Palestinian economy in order to ensure a firm and stable basis for development of the Palestinian people. We sincerely appreciate the Secretariat’s efforts and work in this regard; however, we are disappointed by the lack of resources which has hampered the ability of UNCTAD to fulfill our expectations. We believe that UNCTAD should further strengthen its important work in this area for the benefit of the Palestinian people.

Apart from these issues, Mr. Chairman, we will be highlighting other specific points during our discussion in the relevant agenda items, such as the issues of climate change and the financial and economic crisis.

Mr. Chairman,

In closing, the Group of 77 and China looks forward to working with you and to fruitful deliberations and discussions with our development partners in order to ensure the successful conclusions of this meeting, and to send out, as you said, a strong common message of our joint commitment to development.

Thank you.

© The Group of 77