8:30 AM Jan 21, 1997


New York 20 Jan (TWN) -- The Group of 77 should articulate a global strategy that might enable it to respond to changes taking place in the world scene and to translate the strategy into true negotiating capacity, the new Chair of the Group of 77 declared here Monday.

The Foreign Minister of Tanzania, Mr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, was speaking at a meeting of the Group of 77, attended among others by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UNDP Chief Administrator Gustav Speth, and Costa Rican Foreign Minister Fernando Naranjo, where Tanzania formally took over the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 from Costa Rica.

"By working together in solidarity, we must strive to ensure the accomplishment of objectives which united our countries three decades ago" and Tanzania will spare no efforts in responding to needs of all our countries, Kikwete said, in his speech.

Referring to the prospects for the world economy and the countries of the South, Kikwete said that 1997 offered "rather dampening perspectives". While there will be continuance of an "appreciable level" of growth in the countries of the South, globally the forecasts were "far from being satisfactory" and the economic situation for many countries in Africa remained "precarious."

Hence, the perspectives for improved access to the markets of developed countries for manufactured exports from developing countries remain uncertain. The demand for raw materials and commodities has dropped and the weight of external debt remains unbearable to a great number of countries of the South.

If to this picture is added the instability and conflict and unprecedented growth in the flows of refugees and displaced persons and the spread of absolute poverty, it was clear that the challenges facing the South countries today, the challenges they are attempting to meet here within the United Nations still remain and become increasingly complex.

"International economic relations," Kikwete pointed out, "are most definitely power relations. It is not easy for the countries which exert control in the prevailing international system to accept reforms aimed at correcting the prevailing economic and institutional inequalities.

"Only the determined joint action by the countries of the South, based on clear development policies, a better utilization of their resources and capabilities and a solid strategy of economic cooperation, may offer possibilities for changing the current international economic system," he added.

During the 33 years of its existence, the Group of 77 has struggled to defend the interests of its member countries -- with significant successes and many setbacks. It was incumbent upon all the members to consolidate the gains while tackling the shortcomings and setbacks with concerted action.

"Our main duty is to build and preserve the unity of the developing countries and to accommodate its different concerns and aspirations without jeopardizing the basic objectives and principles of the Group as stated in the Charter of Algiers adopted by the First Ministerial Meeting of the Group of 77 held in October 1967.

"The strength of the Group must rest on the clarity of its objectives, the effectiveness of its mechanisms, its unity and its internal cohesion. Only in that way will it be more real and less formal."

The Group of 77, the Tanzanian said, has an enormous potential for making use of its influence and it was their to persevere in the efforts to achieve its effective consolidation. In cooperation with the Chairman of the NAM Coordinating Bureau, Tanzania would explore actively the possibilities of resuming true dialogue among developed and developing countries.

The remainder of the present decade will be decisive for the Third World. The Agenda for Development, the reform of the UN system, the UN financial crisis and the follow-up of the UN major conferences and summits and other related issues dealing with cooperation, growth and the development of our countries will define, in one way or another, the course of relations with the developed countries for the twenty-first century.

"Tanzania, is fully committed to working closely with friends and allies to restoring the issue of development to the core of the UN agenda. I believe strongly that for peace and justice to be realized, there must be genuine development in the South."

Tanzania would give the greatest priority to South-South cooperation. The results of the meeting of the IFCC-9 (Intergovernmental Follow-up and Coordination Committee of the Caracas Programme of Action, Manila, February 1996), endorsed by the G77 Ministers, provide "clear and pragmatic directives for South-South cooperation," Kikwete said. Among other measures, Tanzania working along with all of you, is determined to implement decisions reached by Sectoral Meetings held in Georgetown, Jakarta and the recently held conference in San Jose on Trade, Investment and Finance.

The San Jose meeting was truly an occasion for developing countries to reaffirm their solidarity and advance common position on relevant issues related to trade, investment and finance within the framework of the Caracas Programme of Action, Kikwete added.

This seemed aimed at making clear that San Jose meeting and its conclusions was a sectoral meeting that did not replace or change the Caracas Programme of Action (CPA), as was made out by some at San Jose.

Tanzania, Kikwete said, undertake work aimed at the full implementation of the CPA, dealing fully with the realities of today and of tomorrow. He would also launch consultations for adequate preparation of the tenth session of the Intergovernmental Follow-up and Coordination Committee (IFCC-X) to be held in late 1997/early 1998 in Africa.

That meeting certainly would have to deal with the progress made by the Group in the field of Economic and Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, but also look with foresight towards the content and the deployment of our future actions.

He was encouraged by the preliminary exchange of views that have been held on certain issues among some of the G77 Ministers (at their New York meeting last September) and hoped to hold further consultations over the next few months.

In this regard, Tanzania intended to develop closer relations with the UN system and the South Centre in order to mobilize all available resources and skills to further and strengthen South-South cooperation.

It was also necessary, to strengthen cooperation and coordination with the various G77 chapters and make fruitful the efforts of the developing countries at various UN centres.

"The Group of 77," Kikwete said, "should articulate a global strategy that may enable it to respond adequately to changes taking place in the world scene and which may translate into true negotiating capacity. Otherwise we will progressively continue to be marginalized from the real world and our influence on the latter will continue to be virtually non-existent.

"A key component of this strategy," he added, "should be the review of the functioning of the Chapters of the Group of 77. Up to now the latter have acted in a dislocated manner and without clear goals, which is reflected in the weakness of their positions and in their lack of continuity and dynamism.

"The disadvantage of the developing countries ultimately resides in the lack of a firm political platform for the 21st century. This is an issue which should be discussed in depth by the next ministerial meeting of G-77."

In this task, a major challenge in this era, Tanzania would devote itself resolutely to putting an end to the marginalization of the developing world, and will attempt to stimulate good will within the developed world for the legitimate quest for an international order of progress equally shared by all.