WTO - Trade Policy Review of the Slovak Republic
Statement H.E. Mrs. Anda Filip, the Permanent
Representative of Romania to the WTO
Geneva, 21/23 November 2001
Thank you Mr. Chairman,
First, my delegation would like to warmly welcome the Slovak delegation headed by Mr. Deputy Minister Peter Brno and to extend our sincere congratulations for their interesting and substantial opening remarks.
I would also like to extend our appreciation to the discussant, Mr. Claes Ljungdahl (Sweden), for his comprehensive contribution to this debate.
We also thank the Secretariat - TPR Division for the prepared for the prepared report and the Slovak authorities, for the Country Report, we find both reports focused, clear and pertinent.
We note with great satisfaction the recent performance registered by the Slovak economy, especially in terms of GDP growth, recovering slowly but surely over the past two years, after a brief period of economic decline. There is no doubt that over the time to come, Slovakia will continue to apply sound macroeconomic policies and firmly pursue structural reform.
The major objective for many of the countries in our region, accession to the European Union, will certainly contribute to the steady continuation of the work already undertaken.
Slovakia has undeniably an open trade regime due to its trade policy orientation towards greater liberalization, all its commitments within the multilateral framework being a confirmation of this openness. Moreover, the Slovak obligations in terms of transparency of its trade policy developments were constantly met under the WTO provisions.
The full commitment of Slovakia to the multilateral trading system should be very clearly highlighted during this review. Its extensive commitments made during the Uruguay Round, both in goods and services, continued to be complemented in the recent years by new ones (such as: new commitments to eliminate import tariffs on a range of information technology products and pharmaceutical products and the participation in the 1997 WTO negotiations on basic telecommunications and financial services). We have to commend the Slovak Republic for its overall resistance to protectionist pressures, despite the difficult period it faced recently and during the period of deep transformations that have led Slovak Republic to a real "functioning market economy" as noted by the European Commission in its latest Reports.
The multilateral trade initiatives of Slovakia have been complemented and supported by regional initiatives towards liberalization during the last decade. Being in full conformity with the WTO Agreement provisions, all the regional initiatives in which Slovakia take part, are, in our opinion, aimed at building and advancing towards multilateral liberalization. The contribution of regional agreements to the liberalization of world trade is certainly a positive one, supporting also a better integration into the global trading system of many countries. It is our strong conviction that regional trade agreements, as a complement to multilateral liberalization, can help countries in transition, like Slovakia, build on their comparative advantages and strengthen their economies.
As one of the strong supporters of a new comprehensive Round of multilateral trade negotiations, the Slovak Republic's aim, as mentioned in the Report by the Government, is to "strengthen its position within the international trade system", in order "to be fully integrated among the most advanced countries of the world". These challenging goals of the Government of Slovakia are a confirmation of the strong commitment of this country to the multilateral trading system, a system that has contributed to the stable and continued economic growth of nations, with all the benefits that it implies.
Another important element which should be underlined on this occasion, is the accession of Slovakia to the OECD in December 2000, and the liberalization commitments undertaken in the field of foreign investment, very extensively described in the Secretariat's Report.
The Slovak Republic is a valuable trading partner for my country. Romania signed in December 1995 a bilateral Free-Trade Agreement with Slovakia, and in July 1997 joined the CEFTA. The overall trade flows between our countries have increased constantly since then, being characterized by the highest rate of growth among CEFTA countries. This evolution stands as a clear example of trade creation, one of the main goals of regional trade agreements.
My delegation did not present any specific question to the Slovak Republic for the purposes of this review, this not lowering the attention attached by my country to this exercise. We are looking forward to hearing the replies of the Slovak delegation to some of the very interesting questions, already posed by some other delegations.
In concluding, Mr. Chairman, I would like to take this opportunity to encourage the Slovak Republic to maintain and strengthen its contribution in the hard work ahead of all of us in the WTO, aimed at setting and improving the future international trade rules.
We also wish the Slovak delegation a successful trade policy review during the next two days.
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