Statement of the third Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Initiative Workshop (SEATINI-3), Harare, Zimbabwe, 27-31 March 2000
The Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Initiative (SEATINI) held its third Workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe, 27-31 March 2000 under the auspices of the International South Group Network (ISGN) and co-sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Workshop sought to consolidate the gains from the previous two Workshops, discuss and evaluate the various proposals, strategies and approaches for African countries to future multilateral trade negotiations.
The major objective of the Workshop was to review the outcome of the 3rd WTO Ministerial Conference held at Seattle 29 November - 3 December 1999 and to facilitate the development of common critical negotiating positions for the year 2000 and beyond, by building trust and networking within the sub-region.
The workshop benefited from contributions of resource persons with varied experience in trade and development issues. Participants were senior and middle level trade policy officials and negotiators from 20 eastern and southern African countries, many of whom had participated in the previous workshops. Representatives of NGOs and the Private Sector also attended.
The Hon. N. Shamuyarira, Zimbabwe's Minister of Industry and Commerce opened the workshop with a call to keep out pseudo-trade issues and put the interests of developing countries at the centre of new negotiations. The workshop was also addressed by Ms. Chinwe Dike, the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Harare, who called for further examination of globalization, its impact on human development and the economies of African countries. She pledged UNDP's support in sustaining SEATINI's work.
2.0 Lessons from Seattle and state of play at the WTO
The preparatory process leading to the 3rd WTO Ministerial Conference was fraught with many difficulties. It failed to produce even a partial consensus draft Ministerial declaration. This signalled the eventual possibility of not reaching agreement in Seattle. There were major differences between developing and developed countries, as well as between developed countries themselves over a number of issues.
For developing countries the priority was on the implementation of the UR [Uruguay Round] agreements. Their view was that any new round should address their concerns, particularly in the agreements on agriculture, services, textiles and clothing, TRIPS [trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights] and those that were subject to review and negotiation. The developed countries on the other hand refused to make any meaningful concessions, but were instead interested in introducing new issues.
The Ministerial Conference was essentially restricted in participation and resorted to "green room" negotiations to which only developed and a select number of developing countries were invited. This was a serious departure from the principles of transparency and inclusivity. Developing countries strongly objected to this especially after a similar experience in Singapore. They threatened not to join any "consensus" as long as they were not party to deliberations and decisions on the final Ministerial Text. This stand significantly contributed to the collapse of the conference.
This was a victory for developing countries in as far as no new round incorporating new issues was launched. It also allowed them time to rethink their strategies and approaches vis-a-vis the WTO agenda and future negotiations.
To build on the Seattle experience and to ensure that issues of concern to developing countries will in future be taken seriously in the WTO, it is imperative to use the interim period to prepare sufficiently for negotiations. In the circumstances, developing countries must, inter alia:
(a) Institute proper and effective consultative mechanisms between governments, the private sector and civil society and identify their economic/development priorities in relation to the WTO;
(b) Identify alternatives and table proposals that take into account and advance the interests of developing countries;
(c) Carry out studies on the new issues and their implications on developing countries;
(d) Identify the deficiencies and imbalances in the WTO agreements and seek to change them to ensure that the focus is on creating trade and development benefits for developing countries;
(e) Review the experience and recent literature on the adverse effects of import liberalization on many developing countries and in light of this, come up with conclusions and guidelines for trade policy and negotiations;
(f) Continue to identify market access opportunities as well as obstacles to using such opportunities, and pursue strategies relating to productive capacities and supply-side constraints that will enable them to take advantage of these opportunities;
(g) Act collectively in matters of common interest to them.
3.0 Institutional reforms
The failure of the Seattle Ministerial demonstrated, more starkly than before, that the WTO needs urgent and fundamental reform. A comprehensive rethink on the WTO's mandate is now necessary, especially in the aftermath of the institution's transformation from the GATT. The reform is made more imperative by the rapid increase in membership (now 135) the majority of whom are developing countries.
The status quo, in which decision-making is characterized by non-transparency, "green-room" and minority-dominated processes, is clearly undemocratic and unacceptable. A reformed WTO should, first and foremost, be development-oriented and based on transparency, inclusiveness and representativeness.
African countries therefore call for an in-depth institutional reform of the WTO. This reform should include, inter alia:
(a) re-examination of the single-undertaking concept;
(b) addressing structural imbalances and deficiencies in the WTO system and agreements;
(c) reviewing the appropriateness of the scope of the WTO's mandate in existing areas;
(d) rationalization of working procedures and calendar of meetings and ensure that proposals are taken up for consideration and/or negotiations only after sufficient advance notice, publication and wide dissemination to enable trade policy authorities, stakeholders and the public in each country to consider them and weigh the pros and cons; and
(e) ensuring full transparency and opportunity for full participation by all developing countries at all stages of negotiations and ensuring a Secretariat with equitable geographical representation.
African countries will submit proposals on these issues to the General Council.
The Africa Group's proposal on TRIPS (WT/GC/W/302 dated 6 August 1999) to the WTO General Council outlines the concerns of African countries on the TRIPS and proposes a strategy to pursue negotiations to review TRIPS. It should be reaffirmed by African countries and followed up strenuously in future negotiations.
(a) On the review of Article 27.3(b), the review process should clarify that plants and animals as well as microorganisms and all other living organisms and their parts cannot be patented and that natural processes that produce plants, animals and other living organisms shall also not be patentable.
(b) Members should retain the flexibility to develop sui generis regimes for plant variety protection, which harmonizes Article 27.3(b) with the provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources, so that the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, the protection of the rights and knowledge of indigenous and local communities, and the promotion of farmers' rights, are fully taken into account.
(c) A provision should be incorporated to the effect that patents must not be granted without the prior consent of the country of origin of the biological resources and traditional and indigenous knowledge. Patents inconsistent with Article 15 of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) must not be granted.
(d) In the context of Article 31, there should be a provision authorizing members to use automatic compulsory licensing for essential drugs.
(e) With regard to the dispute settlement system, the moratorium on the application of the non-violation remedy under the TRIPS Agreement shall be maintained indefinitely until Members agree by consensus that sufficient experience has been gained with the application of the Agreement and that the remedy if adopted will not increase Members' level of obligations.
(f) The technology gap between developed and developing countries is widening. Articles 7, 8, 40, 66 and 67 provide an adequate framework to access to technology at fair and reasonable costs by developing countries. Developed countries should therefore implement their obligations under these Articles. In particular, there should be a full review of the implementation of the provisions of Article 66.2 by developed countries. The TRIPS Agreement should also be reviewed to consider ways and means to operationalize the objectives and principles in respect of transfer and dissemination of technology to developing countries, particularly to the least developed of them.
(g) In developing legislation for the protection of community and related rights, African countries are urged to consider the OAU draft model legislation for the Protection of the Rights of Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders, and for the Regulation of Access to Biological Resources.
(h) In the area of traditional and indigenous knowledge and innovations, African countries shall explore the appropriate means of protection of the rights, knowledge and innovations of indigenous and local communities in international fora, including the CBD and the FAO International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources.
Services is part of the mandated negotiations. In fact, the negotiations were "launched" in February of this year. This would require developing countries to engage in these negotiations. There is as yet no system of collecting and classifying and analyzing data on the services trade, nationally and internationally. This is a major deficiency. Moreover an assessment of the effects of the previous round of negotiations is supposed to be carried out, according to the GATS [General Agreement on Trade in Services] agreement, but this has also not been done.
The gains of African countries in these unfolding negotiations will depend, inter alia, on the extent to which they are able to mobilize their negotiating strength, both individually and collectively. African countries should consider the following strategies, inter alia:
(a) A system of classification and collection of data on 'trade in services' under GATS, in all four modes of delivery, should be agreed upon and put in place by the UN Statistical Commission and the UN General Assembly before any negotiations on market access under GATS are started and schedules are set down;
(b) The priority in the initial stage of the GATS negotiations should be to assess the impacts of services liberalization. There shall be no pressures on developing countries to make new commitments until the assessment is made and in any case, and the negotiations should not be concluded until the assessment has been completed;
(c) retain the Special and Differential Treatment [S&DT] provisions and operationalize them fully;
(d) incorporate effective S&DT measures in the development of any new rules, including in the area of safeguards;
(e) to retain the right to lay down qualifications for service providers from outside and to ensure that in the current process of recognition the service providers of developing countries are not ignored;
(f) developed countries should set aside a percentage of government purchases for developing-country services;
(g) developed countries should provide incentives to their private sector to use services imported from developing countries;
(h) developing countries should not make commitments in areas where they have no potential to gain;
(i) identify and negotiate the elimination of restrictions incorporated in the schedules of commitments of other WTO Members;
(j) negotiate specific commitments in strategic sectors and sub-sectors in accordance with GATS provisions;
(k) identify specific sub-sectors where African countries have comparative advantage and develop them, particularly in developing countries;
(l) undertake studies to identify emerging opportunities for African countries;
(m) co-ordinate the liberalization of markets with other macroeconomic policies, particularly at the sub-regional level; and
(n) ensure that technical assistance covers other areas such as infrastructure development, training of personnel and capacity-building.
One of the main reasons for the failure of the Seattle Ministerial is attributed to the major disagreements between and among the major trading nations, especially in the area of agriculture. In fact, in the Geneva process and in Seattle the negotiations on agriculture proved to be the most difficult and divisive.
Although there was no agreement on the broad round, member countries were still expected to begin negotiations in January 2000 in both agriculture and services (mandated negotiations). Earlier this year the General Council formally "launched" negotiations in these sectors. In the case of agriculture, the negotiations will be conducted in special sessions of the WTO Committee on Agriculture. However, there is no agreement on the date for the conclusion of these negotiations nor on who will chair them.
Developing countries must take advantage of and make concrete proposals during the period between now and the closing date for submission of proposals on what the content and process of negotiations should be.
In these proposals developing countries must clearly point out the imbalances in the Agreement on Agriculture and push very strongly for these to be addressed. For instance, developing countries must:
(a) demonstrate how these imbalances have seriously hamstrung their ability and potential to develop this sector in their own countries;
(b) expose and argue against the inequities in the Agreement which include the provision in the Agreement that provides different sets of rules which effectively allow developed countries to maintain their subsidies while denying developing countries the same rights;
(c) continue to argue for and demand better market access for their products. They must show that although the OECD purports to have "reduced" subsidies, these have simply been reclassified and actually increased and have failed therefore to bring about better market access for developing countries;
(d) identify issues of common interest in their approach and preparation for these negotiations and develop alliances on as broad a basis as possible;
(e) ensure that the disciplines of the Agriculture Agreement do not apply in developing countries in relation to domestic food production for local consumption as well as the protection of small and subsistence farmers;
(f) provide for measures where possible to support agriculture in developing countries;
(g) seek to ensure that issues of implementation are addressed effectively and faithfully, especially the commitments undertaken by developed countries in this sector; and
(h) argue that developed countries undergo far-reaching structural adjustment in their own economies, including the agricultural sector.
7.0 Dispute settlement review
The dispute settlement system of the WTO is considered to be one of the key elements of the multilateral trading system providing for security and predictability. In the five years of its operation, the system has proved to be imbalanced and unfavourable to developing countries.
(a) The Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) should work out specific means to reduce the cost for developing countries of effective participation in the process;
(b) Where the finding is in favour of a developing-country party to the dispute, the developed country should pay adequate financial compensation towards the cost incurred by the developing country;
(c) Panels and appellate bodies should be stopped from usurping the right and duty to provide authoritative interpretation of rules, which is vested solely in Ministerial Conferences and the General Council. In particular, where there are conflicts between some provisions of the agreements, the matter should be referred by the panel to the General Council;
(d) Lastly, in panel rulings which favour a developing country, full corrective action should be taken expeditiously, especially when such corrective action requires legislative changes in the national parliament of the member concerned.
8.0 New issues
Whilst developing countries are struggling with problems of implementing the existing agreements, intense pressures have been built up by developed countries to introduce new issues as subjects of negotiations for the agreements.
These include the 'Singapore issues' (investment, competition, transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation), electronic commerce (introduced in Geneva in 1998) and a new round of industrial tariff cuts, special treatment for biotechnology, labour and environmental standards (which came up during the Seattle process).
(a) Developing countries should not accept any of these new issues and they should unite to resist any new pressures on these issues in the post-Seattle negotiating process;
(b) Before the resumption of discussion on these new issues and proposals, the WTO must satisfactorily resolve the overwhelming problems of implementation faced by developing countries (including a general extension of implementation periods during the period of review, and a review of the rules in order to correct the deficiencies and imbalances);
(c) The WTO should also not negotiate nor have mandate over new issues:
* that are not related to trade or to trade-distortion;
* that restrict the flexibility and range of development options and policies of developing countries;
* that are not 'mature' for discussion or negotiation; or
* where the WTO is not an appropriate venue and lacks a comparative advantage, especially from a development perspective.
In recent years developed countries have been proposing a Multilateral Agreement on Investment which in essence aims at promoting foreign investors' rights. This was most recently seen in the Seattle process. The proposed agreement would seriously constrain the rights and scope of developing countries to decide on and regulate the type and conditions of establishment and operations of foreign investment. It would potentially have adverse effects on developing countries in relation to national ownership of assets and resources, investment and macroeconomic policy, financial stability, the balance of payments, social rights and social development.
The WTO is a trade organization and its mandate should not be extended to rules on investment policy as it would lead to unfortunate adverse consequences, including on the WTO itself.
We reaffirm the sovereign rights of governments to determine their own investment policy and to regulate the entry and terms of operations of foreign investment.
(a) There should be no negotiations for an agreement on investment policy and rules in the WTO;
(b) If the working group on investment resumes, it should focus on effects (positive and negative) of FDI [foreign direct investment] on development, the obligations of foreign investors to host countries and the obligations of home countries to ensure compliance by their companies of their obligations; and
(c) African countries should conduct studies and formulate national policies on investment, with the aim of instituting measures to minimize the risks and maximize the benefits of FDI, and the objective of protecting and promoting national development and sovereign goals and interests.
8.2 Competition policy
Competition policy is currently being discussed and studied in the WTO Working Group on the interaction between trade and competition policy. A multilateral agreement on competition in WTO could impose conditions on developing countries that may be contradictory to their developmental objectives.
(a) Competition policy should remain an issue of domestic law and policy decision;
(b) The working group, if it resumes its work, should continue to study the issues and given the complexities, there should not be any decision to negotiate an agreement in the WTO.
(c) In conducting its work, the Working Group should focus on the implications of different models of competition policy and law for developing countries. There should also be a focus on the need to allow developing-country firms to remain competitive in the face of challenges posed by large foreign companies seeking to monopolize the domestic markets of developing countries. Restrictive business practices and abuse of trade measures such as anti-dumping measures should also be disciplined.
8.3 Transparency in government procurement
Government procurement is currently being discussed and studied in a working group in the WTO. Many African countries are yet to be convinced of the need for a multilateral agreement on transparency in government procurement. To many of these countries, the objective of such an agreement remains unclear and even the transparency element of the agreement appears to be aimed at opening markets for foreign suppliers.
(a) African governments should always have the authority to decide on their procurement priorities and processes;
(b) If it resumes its work, the Working Group should restrict itself to an examination of the elements for an appropriate agreement on transparency and not go beyond this scope; and
(c) The need for and the scope of any proposed agreement on transparency in government procurement in the WTO has to be seriously considered and assessed by African countries, especially its implications for development and sovereignty.
The introduction of e-commerce onto the agenda of the WTO and an attempt to develop multilateral disciplines to govern this mode of trade would have very serious implications for developing countries. For instance,
* Developing countries are destined to lose a valuable source of revenue with the perpetual moratorium on customs duties on electronic transactions;
* E-commerce in developing countries is likely to be an exclusive preserve of a few rich people who can afford to access technological resources and know-how;
* While developing countries would have given concessions to developed countries in the form of duty-free treatment of electronic transactions, it is not apparently clear what developing countries will be getting as compensation in return from developed countries;
* As this is a new mode of transfer, it is likely to have serious implications on the mobility of capital and other factors of production and FDI. This factor may further undermine other developmental objectives of developing countries.
(a) The moratorium put in place in Geneva in 1998 has ended and should not be extended indefinitely;
(b) Developing countries should study the implications of e-commerce on their economies; and
(c) Develop strategies and approaches in dealing with e-commerce in the multilateral trading system in the way that e-commerce will not damage but instead advance developmental needs and objectives of developing countries.
8.5 Industrial tariffs
Although the reduction of industrial tariffs is a traditional issue of the GATT/WTO, the desirability or otherwise of the proposals by developed countries for a new round of industrial cuts would require a new decision. As far as some developing countries are concerned, negotiations of industrial tariffs would have serious implications for their economies. For instance,
* It could lead to low bound tariffs, thus removing flexibility for developmental purposes; and
* It could lead to further de-industrialization in developing countries.
(a) Developing countries must identify products of export interest and strategic importance to them and analyze implications for tariff cuts;
(b) Negotiations should aim at substantially eliminating tariffs peaks and tariff escalations;
(c) A decision on whether to launch a new round on industrial tariffs should be made only through a joint decision by all parties and should be guided by the needs and capacities of developing countries;
(d) Developing countries should themselves undertake a review of the effects of previous liberalization on the domestic industrial sector and the overall economy and draw lessons for future trade and industrial policy, and future negotiations at WTO; and
(e) Countries should reduce tariffs only after taking into account the capacity of local enterprises to withstand further competition, and their development needs.
8.6 Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
Some developed countries have proposed a working group on biotechnology or a review of existing WTO rules to accommodate biotechnology. Developing countries on the other hand are opposed to this 'special treatment' as this might undermine the Biosafety Protocol. There are also fears about the safety and risks of GMOs to human, plant and animal life and the environment. Therefore, developing countries support the need to regulate the trade in GMOs through the Biosafety Protocol and national regulations.
(a) The issue of GMOs should not be subject to a working group or special treatment in the WTO.
(b) The regulations of safety in the trade of GMOs should fall under the purview of the Biosafety Protocol.
(c) Exporting countries must provide importing countries with all relevant information that may be required on GMOs and obtain advanced informed agreement (AIA) as agreed to under the Biosafety Protocol.
African countries should themselves recognize the vital importance of environmental protection within their own terrains, and implement appropriate measures within their own national, regional and continental frameworks.
The risk of including environmental standards onto the WTO negotiating agenda is that it could result, inter alia, in legitimizing protectionism by industrialized countries. There are however other topics of interest to developing countries in the Committee on Trade and Environment, such as the negative effects of TRIPS on developing countries' efforts to acquire environmentally-sound technology, to conserve biodiversity or to protect traditional knowledge on the sustainable use of biodiversity.
African countries should participate effectively in the discussions on trade and environment.
We reaffirm that the issue of workers' rights and labour standards do not belong to the WTO and can best be appropriately addressed in other relevant bodies. Therefore, developing countries should continue to resist attempts to introduce these issues in the mandate of the WTO.
9.0 Regional arrangements
Regional integration and cooperation are an important tool and strategy for trade and economic development of developing countries especially in Africa. In this respect, the multilateral framework of the WTO should serve to support the achievement of these broader objectives, not undermine them. African regional integration agreements should not be subject to restrictive WTO provisions but rather they should be consistent with developmental objectives and goals of these regional agreements.
The recently concluded agreement to prolong the ACP-EU Lomé Convention up to year 2008 demonstrated the need for an effective regional strategy among the weaker countries. It also signalled that African countries will face increased external pressures to give-up their non-reciprocity rights in negotiations for a new trading arrangement with the European Union. In addition, it also showed that the EU will use its Lomé leverage to push African countries to accept those WTO issues which are still under discussion or contentious.
It is therefore necessary to:
(a) re-evaluate regional strategies and adopt more effective joint approaches;
(b) take a more proactive role both in pursuing regional integration among African countries and in discussions of these issues within the WTO, including establishing the necessity for time frames on national agreements to be decided through negotiations and according to criteria set within regional processes rather than determined a priori and arbitrarily and imposed from without; and
(c) analyze the implications of these issues and prepare effectively for the forthcoming negotiations. In this regard, all available options for a successor arrangement of the Lomé Convention should be pursued. A vital factor in this regard will be the strengthening of regional solidarity and cooperation between and among the different ACP countries.
10.0 Special issues of concern to LDCs
In June 1999 LDCs met in Sun City, South Africa and identified issues of immediate and direct concern to their development objectives. These issues should be reaffirmed by all African countries and followed up in all future negotiations.
LDC economies are characterized by serious supply-side constraints and structural weaknesses. The export sectors lack diversification, have shortage of entrepreneurial and managerial skills, low technological capacities and poor, high-cost infrastructural and utility services. They are also suffering from continuing decline of commodity prices.
Liberalization and globalization have brought a lopsided international trading environment from which LDCs have not benefited and have been further marginalized. The development interventions which are meant to address structural weaknesses and supply-side constraints have failed so far to address the problems of productive capacities, competitiveness and poverty.
(a) There is need for appropriate interventions from development partners to improve productive capacities and overcome supply-side constraints. This must be complemented by bound duty-free and quota-free market access conditions for all products from LDCs to developed countries as well as favourable rules of origin as well as the elimination of other non-tariff barriers;
(b) Any new rules must take into account the special developmental needs and their limited capacity to implement the rules. LDCs must be exempt from undertaking commitments which are inconsistent with their developmental needs, capacities and requirements;
(c) Developed countries must make binding commitments to provide technical assistance to LDCs in the implementation of multilateral trading rules;
(d) Establish clear, simplified and easy procedures for accession of LDCs that are not yet members of the WTO. LDCs seeking accession should not be compelled to undertake obligations beyond those of existing WTO Members;
(e) An urgent review of the integrated framework programme; and
(f) LDCs must resolve to carry through programmes which will develop and sustain competitiveness, including diversification of the export sector, removing dualism and enhancing the internal integration of the domestic economies and ensuring equitable benefits.
The WTO process is now beyond Seattle and already a decision has been taken to start mandated negotiations in agriculture and services and mandated reviews. No movement however has been registered for the priority areas of interest to developing countries, especially on implementation issues. Other proposals put forward include the question of institutional reform.
Developing countries and in particular, African countries are now faced with enormous challenges as a result. It is necessary that they engage in an effective manner in this evolving process. It can also be expected that other negotiations will take place in other areas.
On one hand, African governments need to prepare themselves in order to negotiate on a full and equal basis on both agriculture and services. They also need to take a proactive role and bring together those other issues of interest to them onto the agenda and work programme of the WTO. Unity, solidarity and cooperation among themselves will be a crucial element in strengthening their positions and options in the negotiations. These countries should build national negotiating capacities and skills so they can effectively promote and defend themselves in the negotiations.
The ability to argue and maintain positions on issues that affect African countries, as discussed in SEATINI 3, is dependent on an overhaul of the current exclusionary WTO decision-making process. It is imperative that African countries insist on institutional reform of the WTO to ensure the full and active participation of all countries. Such reform should be a priority in the agenda of developing countries.
On the other hand, African countries should realize and utilize the potential and strengths offered by the civil society. In this respect, Africa's academia, researchers and NGOs should provide their governments with technical backup, conceptual analysis and to challenge the much-touted development models advanced by the Bretton Woods institutions and other Northern institutions. These NGOs and organizations should carry out advocacy in the interests of their countries.
We encourage SEATINI to continue its important and commendable role in raising awareness; in bringing governments, NGOs and other stakeholders together to advance their trade and development interests; and in enhancing human resource capacity-building and networking.
In concluding the deliberations of the workshop participants engaged on a wide discussion on the future of SEATINI. Many views were expressed in this regard commending the importance of the role that SEATINI has played in facilitating the preparation of African countries in the region for multilateral trade negotiations. Participants expressed the view that SEATINI should continue carrying out this vital function and called upon other organizations to support SEATINI financially and otherwise in this endeavour.
Participants also commended SEATINI's achievement in bringing together government officials, NGOs and other stakeholders to interface and network on these issues. They underscored the imperative of continuing this process.
It was recommended by the participants that the SEATINI initiative be extended to other regions of Africa to broaden the knowledge base and expertise in these matters.
It was further recommended that SEATINI consider the possibility of facilitating a training programme for African negotiators and the media on trade issues. In addition, it was felt that SEATINI had a significant role to play in build-ing awareness and capacity within civil society on trade issues.
The workshop was officially closed with an address by Dr. Carlos Lopez, the UNDP Resident Representative in Zimbabwe. He stressed and underscored the unique and invaluable work of SEATINI in assisting African countries to understand and to prepare for engagement challenges of globalization and liberalization processes. He pledged UNDP's support to SEATINI.