Address at the Non-Aligned Movement’s Business Forum Kuala Lumpur
23 February 2003

Your Excellency President Megawati Soekarnopoutri,
Your Excellency President Shinawatra,
Your Excellency Prime Minister Vajpayee,
Dr Yeh, Chairperson of the Organising Committee,
Distinguished Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I would like to thank the Non-Aligned Movement’s Business Forum, the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute, the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Malaysia South-South Association for inviting us to share some thoughts with this important gathering of business and political leaders.

We are particularly happy because I am sure that through this gathering, whose express intention is the strengthening of business and cooperation between the countries of the South, we will be able to build mutually beneficial partnerships that will help us to move forward together on the important question of economic development.

We meet today in this beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur, alongside the XIII Summit Meeting of the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement, in pursuit of the fundamental objectives that necessitated the establishment of this important organization, the Non-Aligned Movement. As the distinguished participants are aware, these were first enunciated at the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955.

We would like to refer to these objectives, once again, given their continuing relevance to all of us as developing countries. On the issue of Economic Cooperation, the Final Communique had this to say:

"The Asian-African Conference recognised the urgency of promoting economic development in the Asian-African region. There was general desire for economic cooperation among the participating countries on the basis of mutual interest and respect for national sovereignty. The proposals with regard to economic cooperation within the participating countries do not preclude either the desirability or the need for cooperation with countries outside the region, including the investment of foreign capital, It was further recognised that the assistance being received by certain participating countries from outside the region, through international or under bilateral arrangements, had made a valuable contribution to the implementation of their development programmes."

The Conference went further to make a number of specific suggestions. These included:

sharing of technical assistance among the participating countries;
sharing of development experiences among ourseleves;
cooperation in the area of research;
cooperation in skills development;
promotion of joint-ventures among the Afro-Asian countries;
stabilisation of commodity prices and the demand for primary products;
the expansion of multilateral trade;
expansion of trade among the Afro-Asian countries;
regular exchanges among our business people;
the establishment of regional economic institutions to encourage regional economic growth and integration;
diversification of production and increased export of manufactured goods;
cooperation among the Afro-Asian countries to further their mutual economic interests within the global economy; and,
larger capital transfers from the developed countries to the developing countries to increase the level of investment and development.
As we meet here, 48 years after Bandung, we can see that in many respects we are still faced with the challenge to implement the vision of Bandung.

The theme of this meeting is "Remaking NAM, Enhancing Cooperation, Building Bridges". I am certain that all of us agree fully with it. I am also confident that each one of us present at this meeting will say that our task now is to take the practical measures that will further enhance cooperation and build bridges among ourselves, focusing, among others, on the issues identified at Bandung.

The evolution of the global economy and society since then emphasises the need for the enhanced South-South cooperation that our leaders spoke of almost five decades ago. They understood then, as we too must surely do, that the objective they stated, of the 'recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations, large and small', is impossible to achieve in a situation characterised by the gross economic and technological imbalances and inequalities that characterise the so-called global village.

These levels of inequality are worse today than they were in 1955. The challenge of the eradication of poverty and underdevelopment remains as pressing today as it was then. The task to put our countries on the path of sustained and sustainable development continues to confront us daily.

But perhaps we can make bold to say that today we are better placed to respond to these challenges than we were five decades ago. We therefore have a greater obligation indeed to succeed in giving practical expression to the very same tasks that were set in Bandung.

One important reason for this is that in the intervening period since 1955, some of our countries have achieved remarkable economic progress. This country, Malaysia, stands out as one of these. Its achievements underline the fact that success is possible.

As we remake ourselves and build bridges for the betterment of all our people, it is important that we draw lessons from the rich experiences of all our countries, especially those that have achieved better development since the Bandung Conference.

These successes have also laid a firm foundation for us to give substance to the various forms of South-South cooperation visualised at Bandung. This relates to all elements, including technical cooperation, technology transfers, shared research, skills development, increased trade among ourselves, and investment in one another's economies.

None of us can argue that success in these areas depends solely on our cooperation with the countries of the North. What has been achieved practically in the countries of the South, during the last five decades, points to the critical importance to each of our countries of intensified cooperation among ourselves on the basis of the mutual interest which was spoken of in Bandung.

We trust that this important Business Forum will help further to promote this goal, in the mutual interest and for the betterment of the lives of all our people.

As governments, we also have a responsibility carefully to study such proposals as you may make relating to the further improvement of the conditions that should make it easier for you, as business people, to do business among the countries that comprise the Non-Aligned Movement.

Clearly, we must also continue to attend to other tasks that fall on us as developmental states.

In this regard, many of us in this room will be aware that the countries and peoples of the African continent have embarked on a comprehensive developmental programme of the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

This New Partnership is occasioned by the need to confront the challenges of the mobilisation of domestic African resources to defeat the scourge of poverty and underdevelopment, to enhance African integration and unity, to increase cooperation between Africa and all regions of the South, and fundamentally to restructure our relations with the North.

To achieve these objectives, we aim to implement within our Continent the vision spelt out at Bandung and subsequent conferences of the Non-Aligned Movement, with greater vigour. Undoubtedly, this will both create new opportunities for business, as well as place the private sector at the forefront of the continental effort to change the lives of our people for the better.

The NEPAD programme covers many areas that are critical to Africa's development. These include social and economic infrastructure in all its elements, including telecommunications, capital flows, human resource development, agriculture, diversification of production, market access, debt relief and eradication, and the environment. Through NEPAD, we are also working to create the necessary climate conducive to heightened business confidence in the future of Africa.

A few months ago, we were privileged to attend and address the Summit Meeting of ASEAN countries held in Pnom Pehn in Cambodia. This will result in further engagements between the African Union and ASEAN to elaborate a system of cooperation between the two regions consistent with the vision of Bandung.

The countries of Southern Africa have also started formal discussions with Mercosur in South America aimed at reaching a cooperation agreement covering many areas, including investment and trade. This is a first step which should lead to greater and systematic cooperation between South America and Africa as a whole.

In this context, we must also mention the important process of cooperation between Africa and China, represented by the Sino-African Forum, which seeks to strengthen the economic and other relations between the People's Republic of China and Africa as a whole, on a systematic basis.

All these represent a conscious effort further to deepen South-South cooperation on a concerted and sustained, rather than an ad-hoc basis. Once again, these initiatives should improve the possibility for the business people of the South, such as those gathered here, to help us advance our development goals, relying on our capacities as the developing world.

But also, as Bandung foresaw, we also need to cooperate with the countries of the North. Accordingly, we have managed to secure the support of the countries of the North for NEPAD, encompassing the G8, the European Union, and the Nordic countries. We have also reached agreements with the multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, the World Bank, the IMF and the International Finance Corporation.

Among other things, the evolving new partnership with the countries of the North should help us to address such matters as increased capital flows into Africa, better market access for African products, the effective elimination of the unsustainable debt burden, access to affordable drugs and medicines, and so on.

Once more, this cooperation with the developed world will create new business opportunities. We hope that business people from the South, such as yourselves, will take advantage of these and not merely leave them to your counterparts from the North.

Again as visualised in Bandung, we have to enhance our cooperation "in international forums with a view, as far as possible, to furthering (our) mutual economic interest." The outcome of the current WTO negotiations is of obvious interest to all of us and requires that, as much as possible, we strive to speak with one voice.

Clearly, radically improved all-round access of our products to the markets of the developed North is of critical importance to the achievement of our development goals, as are access to more capital and a new, more equitable, global financial architecture. The realisation of these goals emphasises the importance of our cooperation through the Non-Aligned Movement and the G77 Plus China.

Our successes with regard to such global processes as the UN Millennium Summit, the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development and the World Summit for Sustainable Development, indicate that if we act together, we can ensure that our collective voice is heard.

To ensure that this happens, we must respond to the theme of this Conference - to remake the Non-Aligned Movement, enhance cooperation and build bridges among ourselves. Business has an important contribution to make in this regard. We wish this important Business Forum of the Non-Aligned Movement the success it truly deserves.

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