Dr. Jose Ramos Horta, Special Envoy of g7+  30 November 2020

  • Excellencies panelists, ladies and Gentlemen
  • I thank WTO Accession Division for organizing the trade for peace with g7+ and inviting me to speak at this very important event.
  • I also would like to extend gratitude to the g7+ WTO accession group members and Ambassador Qurban Haqjo of Afghanistan as its coordinator for playing an important role in promoting the voice of conflict affected countries on international trade.
  • I commend Ambassador Alan Wolff, Deputy-Director General, WTO for spreadheading the trade for peace initiative.
  • This is very important event for the reason that it helps us to better understand the Trade for Peace Initiative and to expand the partnerships between the trade and peace communities.
  • Despite number of empirical studies have shown that trade is a conduit for peace among states and regions, we have also witnessed increasing economic and social gap between Nations. This is particularly true for countries that are mired in decades of conflicts; Young Nations such mine that witnessed 2 and half decades of occupation right after it was decolonized
  • Other Countries such as south Sudan that has not been in peace since its independence; Afghanistan that is a roundabout for regional development but has been in war for decades; DRC, beneath which lies trillions of dollars of untapped wealth, but has been among the poorest in the world.
  • The countries in post conflict situation with some degree of stability either lack the capacity to enhance trade or lack infrastructure to realize their potential and achieve economic growth.
  • As an example, my own country Timor-Leste has sufficient reserves of oil and gas. But my nation has not been able to benefit from the return they deserve. We were only able to restore our maritime boundary with Australia just in 2019 where we managed through conciliation to restore our access to fair share. However, we have not yet been able to make sure that the exploitation of oil and gas becomes a sustainable means of employment for our citizens. Due to lack of needed capacity and infrastructure, the resultant of conflict, and hence fragility, we have not been able to refine the crude oil in our own territory that could grow our economy.

Excellencies ladies and gentlemen,

  • The World Trade Organization together with its mission gives us a hope. By promoting liberal trade it ensures us that no country will be left behind. I am particularly encouraged by increasing accession of countries to WTO such as those in the g7+.
  • Given the fact that we are lagging behind in realizing the ambition of WTO, I would like to leave you with 3 points summarizing our aspiration.

First: The current trade war has no winner at all. We are already witnessing that the division among the giants has resulted in conflicts that are mostly fought in developing and least developed countries. As we see that this rivalry among the most advanced countries has divided and polarized them so much that they have not been able to contain the spread of COVID-19 virus.

Second: The increasing interconnectedness and globalization manifest that global peace and stability rests in peace and stability in conflict affected countries that are home to 1.5 billion people. Therefore, it is fair to say that pursuing peace, addressing conflict and supporting dialogue and reconciliation is becoming a moral duty for regional and global actors. Peace and stability in conflict affected countries guarantee prosperity in regions. These countries need to be given the chance to play their fair share in world’s trade. Only then we can achieve what we call shared prosperity.

Third and last: Fragile and conflict affected countries are among the farthest left behind. In other words, the world is deprived of the share these countries could play in global trade and prosperity. These countries are at a critical juncture of their transition. Therefore, we make a plea to the developed world to assist these countries and prevent from a relapse into conflict.

In line with the g7+ joint statement that was issued in May this year, I would like to reiterate the need for global ceasefire, assistance to make these countries self-reliance particularly through writing off debts and enhancing foreign aid and cooperation.

Excellencies ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to conclude by reminding us that WTO was established on the premises that through fair rules of game, we want to promote economic development and peaceful relationship among nations. Never before has this ambition been more critical than it is today. We can only realize this noble cuase, when believe with our actions in the principle of equality and fairness.

 Thank you for the opportunity and I wish you all effective deliberations throughout the week.