• English

Geneva, 31 October 2000


Committee for Trade, Industry and Enterprise Development

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Distinguished members of the Working Party on Industry and Enterprise Development,

I am pleased to open a meeting which is inaugurating a new process in the cooperation of ECE Member States. I am sure that your work will lead towards more cooperation in Europe.

It took us some time to reach this moment, there have been many meetings, hours of debate and I want to thank all colleagues, experts, members of governments who, so generously, have given their time and their expertise to establish this Working Party.

I know that there are new colleagues here with us who have not had yet an opportunity to get acuainted with the way of how the Commission, its Secretariat and intergovernmental bodies work. The intergovernmental machinery of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe consists of Principal Subsidiary Bodies – we have seven of them and for this Working Party it is the Committee for Trade, Industry and Enterprise Development (CTIED) – who establish working parties. The Working Party is a primary body for intergovernmental cooperation, at this level most of work takes place. It is a forum in which to share expertise, to learn from others, to draw upon experience of those more advanced.

The Committee for Trade, Industry and Enterprise Development, which is the intergovernmental decision-making body has in itself its internal structure; in addition to the newly established Working Party on Industry and Enterprise Development (WP.8), there are four other Working Parties:

the well-known UN CEFACT ( previously WP.4),

Working Party on International Legal and Commercial Practice (WP.5),

Working Party on Technical Harmonization and Standardization Policy (WP.6),

Working Party on Standardization of Perishable Produce and Quality Development. (WP.7).

These Working Parties carry out programmes and projects, arrange study tours, prepare studies and analyses, work on recommendations for Member States. They agree on work programme and report to their PSB.

Sometimes we complain that Europe is so diversified, that there are increasing disparities in the advancement of reforms, in economic performance, in the prospect for growth and change, but these disparities and diversity among ECE Member States provide at the same time the great chance for cooperation. This Working Party is about European cooperation.

Your area of work is of utmost importance for our region and for countries with economies in transition in particular. For them enterprise development and industrial competitiveness are major factors behind growth, structural change, export and employment. Much has been achieved in this field in Europe and this brings enormous value-added to your work, generated by the already existing knowledge, expertise, experience, as well as your readiness and preparedness to share it with those who are in need.

I hope that your work will greatly contribute to the development of an ECE policy framework for enterprise development, to the enhancement of public-private linkages, to the best use of available knowledge and expertise and, last but not least, to enhanced cooperation among our Member States.

Last year, your parent body, the CTIED, agreed on Strategic Directions for enterprise development in our region. The emphasis has been shifted from sectoral approach towards a cross-sectoral one, towards the development of a supportive and predictable environment for enterprise development, towards support for ever closer integration of enterprises of the transition economies into the European and global economy.

I have already stressed that, working towards these directions, you will be able to draw on what has already been achieved by those more advanced in the region, but I also hope that you will further develop ECE’s close cooperation with the European Union, with the OECD and with other organizations and institutions who are our partners in the work on enterprise development. Within the UN system, there are also programmes and funds for which your area of work is of great importance.

I also hope that you will draw upon what has been done so far by ECE – as we are not a beginner – in the area of SME development and with regard to the development of institutional environment for enterprise development. For years, the Trade Division and the Regional Advisory Service of ECE have been actively contributing to enterprise development in our region.

During the first year of your work, you will accord high priority to introducing the programme of work, building on the Strategic Directions. The Committee itself has already established some activities. Four teams of specialists on: business incubation, Internet-based enterprise development, decontamination of polluted soils, and trade in radioactive contaminated metal scrap, have already began to work. Our Team of Specialists on Trade in Radioactive Contaminated Metal Scrap is holding extensive discussions in order to harmonize some of the trade practices. The Team on Business Incubation initiated a new series of publications called "Best Practice" guidelines. Speaking of which, a new book will, I hope, be produced by a Team of Specialists that should be formed at the end of this week during the Meeting of Experts on Business Counselling, Advisory and Information Services. Within the interim programme of work, we are also organizing in June 2001 a Forum on E-services for Trade, Investment and Enterprise in Transition Countries. During the course of today, the work of each of the teams of specialists and of the Regional Adviser on SMEs will be reported to you in greater detail so that you may exchange ideas on what can be done in these teams.

I see your mission as a hard work in the areas of promoting entrepreneurship, of enhancing development of sustainable business environment, of facilitating the integration of business into the European and global economy. And I am sure that this mission, hard as it is, will bring results.

I look forward to seeing you here again in March next year for your second session. The second session should generate fresh ideas to be included in the proposals for the future Programme of Work. I very much look forward to these discussions.

Let me wish you a productive and fruitful session.