Ministerial segment of ESCAP's 56th Commission session (5-7 June) gets down to business
GOOD GOVERNANCE IMPORTANT FOR WORLD TRADE
Bangkok (United Nations Information Services)---In spite of the bright economic picture the
region faces, countries must be vigilant and strengthen their national capacities to compete in the
world market, Thailand's Prime Minister H.E. Mr Chuan Leekpai told delegates attending the
opening of the Ministerial segment of the 56th Commission session of the United Nations
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN/ESCAP) today.
"We must press ahead with the further development and reform of our countries, lifting our
economic and financial structures to those of international standards and improving upon the
system of governance in both public and private sectors," said the Prime Minister of Thailand.
The Prime Minister said he encouraged discussion on the strengthening of the international
financial architecture. "I also agree with the recommendations made that an economic and
financial monitoring surveillance is required, not only to provide us with an early warning
process, but also to help us anticipate and counter destablising factors on both a regional and
The 56th Commission session, being attended by 19 Ministers from 49 member and associate
member countries, will have as its theme: Development through globalization and partnership in
the twenty-first century: an Asia Pacific perspective for integrating developing countries and
economies in transition into the international trading system on a fair and equitable basis.
The Thai Prime Minister also addressed the issue of the social and human aspect of
development. "In dealing with the recent financial crisis, one hard lesson learnt was the need to
have in place social security and safety net programmes to help cushion our peoples from the
impact of the turmoil," he said.
The timely session coming as it does on the heels of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
meeting in Seattle and UNCTAD X in Bangkok earlier this year will also examine other issues
such as the environment, transport, tourism, social development, infrastructure development and
Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan, in a special message to the delegates
said that globalization must mean more than creating bigger markets. " It must be about the
inclusion and integration of all countries and all people into the global economy, the international
trading system, and global society in general."
"ESCAP has an important catalytic role to play in this process. Sound governance practices and
stable institutions will be rendered that much more effective if they are supported by mechanisms
at the regional, sub-regional and national levels. I emphasized this point in my discussions at the
ASEAN-UN Summit in Bangkok earlier this year and I urge you to take this into consideration
when discussing possible action in the region," he said.
ESCAP Executive Secretary Mr Adrianus Mooy in his policy statement noted the positive signs
of the economy in the region but warned that there are many risks and challenges facing the
region in the medium-term.
"Without doubt the strength of the US economy has played a major role in aiding the recovery
process in the ESCAP region by providing a stimulus of exports," Mr Mooy said adding that the
process could be adversely affected if a slowdown or rising interest rates were to happen in the
US or "without any compensating increase in demand from the still hesitant Japanese recovery or
from the current economic upturn in the EU."
Mr Mooy also underlined another possible looming threat to the region's economic recovery--
the possible rising of oil prices which could come under upward pressure later in the year just
before the onset of winter.
"The greater integration between the developed countries and the region has made the region's
financial markets vulnerable to periodic bouts of volatility. Such volatility can be highly
disruptive for macroeconomic stability and the investor confidence with potentially debilitating
impact on the real economy," said Mr Mooy.
Many countries particularly the Least Developed Countries are ill prepared to cope with the
challenges posed by globalization , Mr Mooy said. He called for duty and quota free access to
markets in developed countries for all exports from LDC countries.
Mr Mooy also underlined the need for economic and financial surveillance and monitoring for
developing an early warning system to deal with the adverse impact of financial market volatility.
The Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2000, now before the Ministerial
meeting,contains an in-depth study on monitoring and surveillance as well as an economic report
in the region.
The delegates unanimously elected H.E. Dr Kamal Kharazzi, Foreign Minister of the Islamic
Republic of Iran to chair the 56th Commission session of ESCAP.