Remarks by Senator Julian Hunte at Opening of Workshop for Parliamentarians on the Multi-Lateral Trading System - August 5, 2003
Home Up Address by Hon. Senator Julian R. Hunte, OBE to the 59th Session of the United Nations General Assembly – New York, September 24, 2004 Hon. Senator Julian R. Hunte, OBE On The Occasion Of The Awarding Of The Knight Of The Grand Cross Pian Order Remarks by the President of the General Assembly H.E. Mr. Julian R. Hunte at the Opening of the General Debate - 23 September 2003 [ Remarks by Senator Julian Hunte at Opening of Workshop for Parliamentarians on the Multi-Lateral Trading System - August 5, 2003 ] STATEMENT AT 57th SESSION  OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY - SEPTEMBER 18th 2002 Statement By Honourable Julian R. Hunte, Visit to Martinique - August 13, 2002



Honourable Prime Minister
Members of the House of Assembly and Senate
Representatives of the World Trade Organisation
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Specially Invited guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

I welcome all of you here this morning to what is, in many ways, an historic event. I welcome in particular, our guests and resource persons from the World Trade Organisation who will be with us over the next two days.

The Ministry of External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation is pleased to be associated with the World Trade Organisation in hosting this National Workshop for Parliamentarians on the Multilateral Trading System and the Doha Development Agenda.

The significance of this workshop should not escape us coming as it does at a time when we are engaged in preparations for the Fifth WTO Ministerial Conference scheduled to be held in Cancun, Mexico, September 10 to 14, 2003.

But the background to this workshop dates from approximately eighteen (18) months ago when Saint Lucia, among other developing countries, was asked to submit its Technical Assistance and Capacity Building needs to the WTO. We were one of the few countries which recongised the necessity to sensitise parliamentarians to the intricacies of the multi-lateral trading system, and of the operations of the WTO in particular.

It is in response to this request that this two-day workshop is being held for parliamentarians in Saint Lucia. It is only the second of these National Workshops to be held by the WTO, the first one having been held in South Africa. It is also my understanding that this National Workshop follows a regional one held last week in Trinidad under the auspices of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, where delegations from member countries took part. At this workshop, however, we will be able to expose not just one or two members of parliament to these trade issues but, indeed, our entire parliament.

To us, such exposure of members of Parliament to the features of the Multi-lateral trading system is extremely important. It was the former Director General of the WTO who wrote the following:

“The WTO is a government to government organisation. We do not tell governments what to do. They tell us. We operate by consensus, thus every member government has veto power. Our agreements are negotiated by Ambassadors or Ministers who represent their governments and who in turn are responsible for advancing their government agenda. That is why it is important for parliamentarians and legislators to know about the institutions they own and fund. It is important for them to also know that they have access to an invaluable resource at the WTO Secretariat, to help them pass the right rules for their country and their people”.

The rationale for and objectives behind this workshop therefore are fourfold:-

• to foster greater understanding of and interest in the multi-lateral trading system;

• to inform parliamentarians about the basic operations of the multi-lateral trading system, key issues on the international trade agenda and the status of the Doha Development Agenda negotiations;
• to provide a forum for parliamentarians to discuss trade related and development related issues of particular relevance to Saint Lucia and the Caribbean region;
• to encourage an informed and open debate on the potential role of the WTO in fostering development.

Mr. Chairman, International Trade negotiations are now at a very critical phase. We are a mere few weeks away from the crucial fifth Ministerial Meeting in Cancún. For small countries like Saint Lucia which do not have representation in Geneva, it is absolutely crucial that we find alternative ways of influencing the process towards taking decisions, which take our circumstances into account.

From past experience we have learnt that it is necessary for us to work extremely hard in order that our voices may be heard in the various fora. It has been an uphill task to get issues related to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) on the agenda.

It appears that although there is recognition of the Special Vulnerabilities of Small Economies by the major trading nations, there remains the reluctance to include a separate category of nations within the WTO. And so we must continue to argue our case and make our voices heard.

We cannot, however, make informed contributions if we do not keep abreast of developments. As Parliamentarians we must be at the centre of the debate. But we cannot achieve all that is needed on our own.

The inclusion of the Private Sector, therefore, as part of our deliberations, signifies the efforts of Government to build national consensus and ensure that the views of all parties are represented.

Against this background, I look forward with great expectation to our deliberations over the next few days, and I am confident in my hopes that in the final analysis we will all find this exercise to have been useful.

I thank you.

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