Statement by Her Excellency
Ms. Nyamosor TUYA,
Minister for External Relations of Mongolia,
at the 55th Session
of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
On behalf of the delegation of Mongolia I would, first, like to express my sincere thanks to the government and the people of Thailand for their warm hospitality. I would also like to express my deep appreciation to the Secretariat and the distinguished delegations for the excellent preparation of this session.
The ESCAP’s 55th session is taking place at a juncture when the Asia-Pacific nations prepare to enter a new century, a century which, as all of us know by now, will be marked by an increased interdependence of nations in what, we believe, will be a more open global society. That is the trend, and we find ourselves in a need to adjust and to reform to be able to cope with the challenges posed by the increasingly globalized international environment.
In the meantime, the tasks before us remain truly formidable. In immediate terms, the region is yet to complete the work of overcoming the economic and social setbacks caused by the recent financial crisis and restore economic growth.
In the case of my own country, Mongolia, the government is still grappling with the effects of the steep declines in the prices of our key export commodities which led to the abrupt deterioration of the economic situation in early 1998. Although, last year, we have been able to achieve, for the first time since the start of the transition, a single digit inflation figure of 6 per cent, and to grow at 3.5 per cent, the fall in income, a sharp drop in fiscal revenue and deepening bank insolvency have called for an urgent policy response. Banking sector reform, protection of the vulnerable groups of the population and governance issues are high on the government’s policy agenda. In June this year a Consultative group meeting of donor countries and agencies for Mongolia will be held in our capital city, chaired by the World Bank. We attach particular importance to this meeting as it takes place at a critical time when my country badly hurt by external shocks and severe budgetary constraints, stands committed to further continuing the policy of economic liberalization in close cooperation with, and the assistance of, the international community, including this Commission.
If responding to the effects of the crisis is the primary preoccupation of the countries in the region, in more fundamental terms, that response encompasses responses to the challenges of globalization, especially in the light of the growing role of information technology in our day-to-day business. The selection of the topic “Asia and the Pacific into the 21st century: information technology, globalization, economic security and development” as this year’s theme topic for discussion was a timely decision. The fact is, however, that, as my colleague from the ROK put it yesterday in his statement, “many developing countries are not able to keep abreast of the rapid progress of information technology. Without access to ICT these countries might fall behind the new global opportunities”. I believe that ESCAP has a role to play in fostering regional cooperation in the area of promoting information technology, especially through its skills development and human resource development programs.
Landlockedness is universally recognized as a particular and serious handicap to development. Left unattended, the situation of the landlocked developing countries is fraught with the danger of their further marginalization in the face of the growing globalization. Prohibitive transportation costs serve as a grave impediment to trade. In ESCAP the Special Body on least developed and landlocked developing countries recognized at its meeting that continued support from the international community was now more urgent than ever in order to integrate the economies of those countries into the global economy. I am confident that ESCAP will be paying continued attention to the particular needs of the landlocked developing countries with a view to promoting equitable regional development. In that regard, we believe that a study on the trade facilitation measures with reference to the special needs of landlocked developing countries may prove to be a useful undertaking.
Mr. Executive Secretary stressed in his Policy Statement yesterday the importance he attaches to an eventually integrated transcontinental transport system in the ESCAP region. My delegation shares his view that transport linkages in this region are crucial in facilitating trade and tourism. We therefore think it important for ESCAP to continue its efforts in the area of transportation, including support for sub-regional efforts in North-East Asia.
The government of Mongolia values cooperation with ESCAP in the area of environmental protection. Mongolia’s National Plan of Action on Combating Desertification was developed with the assistance of ESCAP and other UN agencies. As environmental issues pose a growing challenge throughout the region we believe that ESCAP, in its capacity as a regional organization, should have a role to play in this area to complement national and other regional initiatives.
In the past several decades the ESCAP region has made impressive achievements in economic development and ESCAP, as an organization, has accumulated vast experience in promoting regional cooperation. As we approach the 21st century, a multitude of new challenges is emerging, and we believe that ESCAP, adapting to the changing times, will be of continuous value to the region as we enter the age of globalization.