The Monterrey Consensus represented an important breakthrough in the debate on international economic cooperation, as it created a carefully balanced partnership – not only between the individual states and the international community, but also between the state and the private sector.
In the four and a half years since Monterrey, we have seen important progress, both in terms of governance at the national level in many countries and a greater awareness and willingness on behalf of the international community to contribute.
The world economy has indeed experienced strong growth over an extended number of years. And even more importantly, the strongest growth takes place in developing country regions. This is very encouraging.
However, with some important exceptions, in particular in East Asia, we must acknowledge that these positive growth rates only to a limited degree have benefited the poor and the most marginal groups of society.
In fact, there is a clear tendency that this more dynamic world economy also contributes to marginalizing the must vulnerable.
We must therefore acknowledge that “getting the basics right” - to ensure private sector entrepreneurship and growth - is necessary, but not sufficient to achieve our common objectives – to reach the Millennium Development Goals. As pointed out by Under-Secretary General José Ocampo at the opening of this Committee last week, we must acknowledge that more active re-distributive policies are crucial.
Policies to foster growth and policies to ensure fair distribution are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they are mutually re-enforcing and indeed pursuing them in parallel is the only way to achieve sustainable development. In the long run, only such a balanced approach will ensure the social cohesion and stability necessary for the single most important pillar of the Monterrey Consensus: an attractive investment climate, both for national and foreign direct investors.
This challenge, to ensure growth with fair distribution, is fundamentally a challenge of good governance. And here I would like to stress the point made by the EU, that a broad definition of good governance is important. Indeed, I would say a broad definition is crucial. Good governance must not only include the rule of law, fight against corruption and sound macro-economic policies, but also respect for all human rights and due attention to the social and environmental impacts of policies.
Such good governance is primarily the responsibility of governments – at the national level. All national governments must to a greater extent pro-actively address the challenge of extreme inequalities, in terms of incomes, access to basic services – and perhaps most importantly – access to Decent Work for all. As emphasized by the European Union, and indeed as witnessed by our common European experience, equity and social cohesion are essential elements in the pursuit of long-term prosperity. And the promotion of equality of men and women must indeed be an integral part of these efforts.
While these are the responsibilities of national governments, Norway fully recognizes the importance of global governance structures and the key role of contributions from the international community, as spelled out in the Monterrey Consensus.
And we certainly take these responsibilities seriously. For years we have been overshooting the target of 0,7 percent of GNI to ODA. And last week in the proposed budget for 2007, my government presented plans to a further increase of approximately 300 million US dollars, bringing Norway’s annual ODA to 3 billion dollars – or 0,97 percent of our GNI.
We will increase our efforts and contributions to humanitarian assistance, peace building and human rights; women and gender; sustainable development and the environment; good governance and anti-corruption efforts; petroleum and energy administration/institution building; reduction of child mortality – and throughout keep a special focus on Africa.
Also on debt, the Monterrey Consensus’ second pillar of direct contributions from the international community, Norway will lead the way in taking measures to cancel the external debt of the poorest and most heavily indebted countries, primarily by means of multilateral mechanisms. Our Government is also prepared to make strategic use of unilateral debt cancellation measures in 2007 to bring the international agenda forward.
The Norwegian Ship Export Campaign (1976-80) was a failure as a development policy measure. In 1988-89, the Brundtland Government conducted an evaluation of the campaign, which was criticised for inadequate needs assessments and risk assessments. The main conclusion was that this kind of campaign should not be repeated. As creditor, Norway shares part of the responsibility for the resulting debt.
Norway is showing that it takes this responsibility seriously by cancelling these debts. Seven countries still have outstanding ship export debts to Norway. The Government plans to cancel the remaining ship export debts of Egypt, Ecuador, Jamaica, Peru and Sierra Leone to Norway.
This will be done unilaterally and unconditionally. The outstanding ship export debt owed by Myanmar and Sudan will not be cancelled until these two countries qualify for multilateral debt relief operations.
In addition to the important breakthroughs on debt relief of the past year, in the international debt movement there is a now a debate on “illegitimate debt”, and there is a process of trying to define it. This is a difficult and delicate process. The debate should nevertheless continue and the focus of the discussion should be creditor responsibility and not necessarily on making a bullet proof definition of “illegitimate debt”.
Notwithstanding ODA and debt relief, Norway is increasingly aware of other direct sources of financing for development. While providing ODA through ordinary budgetary allocations is the most important means of mobilizing external finance for development we nevertheless find it important to help stimulate additional efforts, including through new and innovative mechanisms.
Therefore, Norway would now like to promote new and innovative financing mechanisms for development. In our current capacity as Presidency of the Leading Group on Solidarity Levies to Fund Development, we find the new and re-invigorated international debate on such schemes very encouraging.
We also wish to contribute to the development of cheaper and more secure system for remittances - private money transfers from migrants to their country of origin via finance institutions. Cooperation with countries and institutions with experience in this area will be important.
The establishment of secure transfer systems will mean that more people use the official channels and a larger share of the money reaches the people it is intended to reach.
And let me be perfectly clear, for Norway it is vital that all these sources of financing for development - debt relief, innovative mechanisms and remittances – are additional to ODA efforts from donor countries.
Before I close Madam Chairperson,
Let me say a few words on the last, and currently most difficult, of the pillars from Monterrey, the one trade:
It is most regrettable that the negotiations on a new WTO agreement have been suspended.
The fight against global poverty will be set back if the negotiations are suspended for a long time. Results that have already been achieved, like the elimination of export subsidies on agricultural products, and duty- and quota-free access for 97 per cent of all goods imported from the least developed countries, could now come to nothing. New market opportunities resulting from reduced tariffs and subsidies will not materialise.
Both Norway and the developing countries need predictable, up-to-date rules for international trade. We support the call from WTO Director General Lamy for quiet, yet intensive, diplomacy between WTO members that can pave the way for an early resumption of the negotiations, and help bring the Doha Development Agenda to a successful conclusion.
Finally Madam Chairperson,
Let me add that Norway welcomes the resolution on quotas and voice in the IMF from the recent annual meeting in Singapore. At this point Norway aligns with what was stated yesterday by the EU.
If the International Financial Institutions are to maintain their relevance in international development issues, we must ensure that developing and emerging economies are given a stronger say.
We therefore welcome a debate on the representation of member countries also in the World Bank, as was indicated by President Wolfowitz in his concluding remarks to the IMF/World Bank's annual meeting in Singapore last month.