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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
DR. ALBERTO G. ROMULO
Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines
LET NO ONE BE LEFT BEHIND
Let me begin by congratulating you on your election as President of the UN General Assembly.
My delegation associates itself with the statement delivered by the distinguished Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Africa on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on our Group’s positions on the comprehensive global midterm review of the implementation of the Brussels Program of Action for the Least Developed Countries.
The outcome of our high level meeting is awaited with keen interest by the 50 least developed countries (LDCs) and their 600 million constituencies.
In the race to wealth, no one should be left behind.
Private business may be in a frenzy to outsmart rivals in the global marketplace. Developed countries may be pursuing competitiveness with a passion. Developing countries may be gripped by the desire to expand their meager market shares.
But even in the face of all this, we must never renege on our collective responsibility to guarantee the rightful place of LDCs in global growth.
On the march to globalization, the interests of vulnerable LDCs must not be ignored. Their serious concerns must be given special care and attention.
They must be with us on our journey and road to prosperity.
There is reason for hope and optimism.
The report of the Secretary-General on the performance of LDCs during the past five years since the adoption of the Brussels Program of Action shows noticeable improvement in the performance of several LDCs. In the economic and social fields, there has been clear growth.
This positive development is, however, attributable to increases in global commodity prices and the opening up of a number of export markets in developed countries.
These short-term opportunities must be made sustainable -- if we are to make an impact on the extreme poverty, structural weaknesses, and constraints in human and institutional capacities in LDCs.
Towards this end, my delegation endorses the strategy, proposed by South Africa on behalf of the Group of 77 and China for the further implementation of the Program of Action for the LDCs.
Structural impediments, weaknesses in governance, supply-side constraints, and prevailing export market barriers faced by LDCs have to be overcome.
Only then will LDCs have the capacity to achieve sustained economic growth and development and thereby reap the benefits that is the promise of globalization. Many developing countries have improved their productive capacities by addressing these same concerns.
This requires faithful implementation of carefully defined policies in national development strategies or poverty alleviation plans. However, this admonition is easier said than complied with because of the inherent structural and institutional limitations of the LDCs.
Here lies the need for strong support and partnership of both developed and developing countries
The achievement of sustained growth by the LDCs, given their vulnerabilities and their limited financial resources, needs strong partnerships with their neighbors in particular.
This is exemplified by our own regional experience.
When the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), made up originally of robust economies, expanded to include four less developed countries, two of which are LDCs, we launched the Initiative for ASEAN Integration, a strategy to avoid a widening gap in economic growth among member countries.
ASEAN’s sense of duty to all its members was also demonstrated in other ways.
In complying with tariff reductions under the ASEAN Free Trade Area regime, we applied differentiated timelines. This enabled members to set up their implementing legislative and policy frameworks and to enable their industries to adjust to the liberalization process.
The Initiative for ASEAN Integration was complemented by the more comprehensive Vientiane Plan of Action. This plan also takes into account social and developmental measures that enable all the peoples of the region to enjoy equal opportunities for progress.
ASEAN’s regional story shows that we must not leave anyone behind in our quest to improve our economies and our peoples’ standards of living.
As Chair of ASEAN, the Philippines will continue to ensure that our programs place every member firmly on a common road to growth.
Ours is an experience and a model that we would be happy to share. In doing so, we hope to contribute to the attainment of the millennium development goal of halving poverty by 2015.
We must work together to defeat poverty.
A poet once said:
”Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together.”
Ours is a diverse global society, pitted with gaps, marked by divisions.
But our common hopes remain, as do our collective pain, until together, we bring poverty to its knees.
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