Geneva, 13 June 2001
Statement by Ms. Danuta Hübner,
United Nations Under-Secretary-General,
Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe
I am pleased to welcome you to the fifth session of the Committee for Trade, Industry and Enterprise Development.
We meet one month after the most important annual meeting of all our shareholders, the fifty-five member States of the ECE – the fifty-sixth Annual Session of the Commission. This year the meeting has confirmed the clear mandate for all of us to strengthen the ECE’s role in policy dialogue and to implement strategic directions the debate on which we have initiated last year. These directions call for a greater coherence and policy orientation of different activities carried out by Principal Subsidiary Bodies in various parts of our organization. To facilitate achieving this goal, the Commission has decided to establish a Steering Group to discuss the overall policy and direction. This Steering Group will meet during the ECE’s annual session and will include the Bureau of the ECE, the Chairs of all Subsidiary Bodies and the Executive Secretary. We count very much on your Bureau and hope it will actively participate in and provide input to this Steering Group. Your vice chair, Mr. Alexander Safarik-Pstrosz actively participated and greatly contributed to our debate for which I want to thank him indeed very much. This greater policy coherence can be also supported by strengthened inter-sectoral cooperation. The Steering Group will certainly contribute to such inter-sectoral cooperation., but we need the involvement of the Principal Subsidiary Bodies themselves in supporting and stimulating such cooperation. Areas where the Commission has specifically called upon your Committee to develop intersectoral cooperation are: border-crossing and trade facilitation; and trade, timber and environment. The Commission also encourages the Committee to develop other cross-sectoral activities whenever opportunities present themselves and where you see a value added to be generated by an intersectoral approach. This is certainly true for electronic commerce, investment and enterprise development that can be pursued in the future. For implementing inter-sectoral activities it is also important that we take an innovative approach to seeking funding and again, we count very much on your assistance in this respect.
Another issue taken up by the Commission and of relevance to your work is the Millennium Declaration, adopted by the heads of UN member States at the Millennium Summit. This Declaration contains a number of goals that both member States and the United Nations are committed to accomplishing. In support of this process, the Commission held a roundtable to discuss the key policy concerns and objectives of the Declaration that are of relevance to the ECE region.
Among these objectives there are also those of particular relevance to your work, like the eradication of poverty; the use of information technology to support development; environmentally friendly aspects of international trade and investment; and a greater involvement of civil society and, particularly NGOs and the business community, in the United Nations’ work.
The Commission highlighted the need to make special efforts to eliminate the negative consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. In this context I would ask your Working Party 8 and its Team of Specialists on Trade in Radioactive Steel to consider the possibility of their making a contribution to this effort.
Therefore, I would like to invite your Committee to consider what contributions you could make to the implementation of the Millennium Declaration and to incorporate the concerns of this declaration into your programme of work for the coming years.
During this current session, your Committee has important decisions to make. In particular, with regard to the terms of reference for the Committee, the policy objectives and strategic goals for the Committee’s activities. Recommendations and decisions of the last session of the Commission can certainly provide practical guidance for the Committee in its work as a policy forum and will facilitate its cooperation both with the other principal subsidiary bodies and other international organizations.
I would like to thank you for your excellent working relationships with the other regional economic commissions, ESCAP and ESCWA in particular, as well as with such members of the UN family as UNCTAD, ITC, FAO, UNCITRAL, WIPO and WTO. Your well-established cooperation with the European Commission is of particular importance in view of enlargement. Please continue this cooperation and, wherever possible, expand upon it.
I would like to encourage increased cooperation with the many subregional organizations for which the ECE traditionally provides substantive and technical support, such as the Central European Initiative, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Your contribution to our subregional programmes: SECI, SPECA, South Caucasus is also needed.
I would also like to confirm the Secretariat’s support to the proposal of a high-level meeting on trade facilitation to take place next year, in cooperation with other international organizations, with participations of all partners needed for this process.
We are also ready to help you in your efforts to streamline CEFACT structures and your continued efforts in developing and promoting ebXML as a way of ensuring that all we do in this field is in line with new technologies development and can be widely used throughout the region. With regard to enterprise development, it is encouraging to see a very ambitious programme of the Working Party 8 which includes a number of projects of high value. I trust we will move more ahead starting by those projects which are most needed, with most support and of particular relevance to transition economies.
I also want to thank those of you who have contributed to the Forum on “Trading into the future: e-services for trade, investment and enterprise” and those who will contribute to a Policy Roundtable on Services in Transition Economies. They represent a vivid testimony of practical nature of the Committee’s work, as well as the relevance of this work for both developed and transition economies in the region. The Forum put forward a practical programme to promote trade in e-services in transition economies and made recommendations for action by Governments and enterprises. However, it is important that member Governments and international organizations work together to convey the benefits of trade in e-services to all countries of the region so that the programme contributes to the economic growth and prosperity of the region as a whole. Now, it is up to the Committee to take up these recommendations and convert them into a number of concrete activities.
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished delegates, let me thank you for your invaluable support for activities of the ECE and your commitment to even further increasing its usefulness for all the countries of our region.
Thank you for your attention.