|The Council on Foreign Relations in New York|
|Friday, February 17, 1967|
|Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Members of the Board of Directors, Ladies and Gentlemen:|
We should like to begin our remarks to this distinguished gathering of eminent leaders of American business industry by expressing our deep appreciation to all the officers and members of the Board of Directors of the African-American Chamber of Commerce for their kind hospitality and the opportunity afforded us to meet with you all and to share with you our thoughts and preoccupations concerning matters which are no less important to the well-being of peoples everywhere than are the peace and tranquillity which we all endeavour to promote for all nations great or small.
International peace and security are primary requisites for the economic development and social progress of the world today; however, the converse is no less true - that the economic well-being of peoples advances the cause of international peace, and the key to economic prosperity lies in the free flow and exchange of commerce and capital among nations. In the unhampered flow of capital between countries lies the solution to the problems generated by the widening gap between the economically advanced and the developing nations of today.
It is, therefore, with appreciation that we note that the African-American Chamber of Commerce is dedicated "to foster United States trade with, and promote United States industry and investment in Africa." So long as far-sighted people like yourselves, in each nation and community, recognize the essential interdependence of all peoples in the economic field, as indeed in other areas of human endeavour; and so long as they realize that there are enormous mutual benefits to be derived from co-operative economic efforts, there is reason to hope that the world economic situation will improve and undoubtedly at a greater pace than ever before.
For some time now, and despite earnest efforts on the part of the United Nations Organization and certain countries, the world economic situation has not been as encouraging as it ought to be.
On the one hand, a small group of economically and industrially advanced countries, notably your great nation, have achieved prosperity unparalleled in the history of mankind, enabling their respective peoples to maintain a high standard of living.
On the other hand, by far the vast majority of the nations of today remain economically under-developed, their peoples subsisting in want and poverty as their normal conditions of life. In an enlightened age such as ours in which the benefits of scientific and technological advancement are being brought to bear in almost every sphere of human life, this profound gap gives rise to anxiety and concern. It is a situation that engenders misery, bitterness and hostility. It is a situation that cannot and must not be allowed to continue longer. In an era when nations gather in concert to declare each nation's fundamental rights to freedom and equality, it is dismaying that the great majority of the world's population exists in the shadow of poverty and misery, often lacking the basic essentials of food and clothing, while their fellow men in other parts of the globe enjoy a life of abundance, comfort and tranquillity. No greater victory can be won by the nations of today than the conquest of the apocalyptic enemies that still ride mankind - poverty, disease and ignorance.
A two-pronged action on a global basis appears to provide a realistic approach to the urgent problems posed by the acute disparity in the world economic situation.
On the one hand, the economically developed nations have a responsibility, to others as much as to their own interests, to make available to less developed countries their vast capital and technological resources in ventures which will yield maximum results within the shortest time possible.
On the other hand, it is equally important that the developing nations, for their part, should find ways and means of attracting foreign capital as well as technical skill, both public and private, in order to accelerate their economic development.
We in Ethiopia, for our part, are doing our utmost to achieve progress in both these areas. While our Five-Year Economic Development Plans have laid stress on primary industries, as well as essential hydro-electric power, irrigation systems and a network of highways, among others, the entire nation is now engaged in self-help endeavours which are yielding satisfactory results and contributing to the nation's efforts toward economic advancement and social progress. Within the purview of sound fiscal policies and other national commitments, we are now engaged in employing every available resource in the national task of economic development.
On the other hand, we have been seeking foreign capital to narrow the gap between available resources and full economic development. While we are appreciative of the assistance of international organizations and agencies as well as a number of friendly governments, we would at the same time like to refer to steps taken by the nation to attract and encourage private foreign capital.
In addition to giving full assurance of utmost co-operation to prospective foreign private investors, the government has enacted a most liberal legislation, which has been in effect for several years now, to encourage private capital. This decree guarantees the rights of potential investors from arbitrary public expropriation, and provides protective concessions for all those who wish to participate in our country's development programmes.
It is a fact that Ethiopia is fortunately endowed with vast untapped natural resources, and what we in Ethiopia seek is the utilization and exploitation of these resources for the benefit of both the investor and the nation. That a mutually beneficial and happy partnership between foreign private enterprise and government exists in Ethiopia is clearly attested to by the growing number of foreign firms which have profitably established themselves in various businesses, while at the same time assisting in the development of the nation's economic infrastructure. Nonetheless, Ethiopia desires more private capital investment. Organizations such as yours can do much to fill this need, while providing benefits for the investors.
It is a truism that self-help, hard work and initiative are requisites for any nation's economic and social advancement. Yet it is equally true that there still are outmoded international arrangements which seriously limit the efforts of developing countries to develop their potential. So long as there remain impediments to the free flow of international trade; so long as there is no guaranteed price of primary goods at remunerative level without discrimination, the economic and social development of the developing nations will remain seriously handicapped. It is in this connection that the economically advanced nations can render valuable contribution. Such nations could, as an instance, extend further bilateral or multilateral assistance and waive obstructing arrangements such as preferential tariffs as well as other protective systems which, in the long run, prove ,a disservice to the economic and social progress of developing nations.
The establishment of the UNCTAD and the declaration of the United Nations Development Decade, in addition to other economic programmes launched under the auspices of the United Nations Organization, have provided the basis for a solution of the urgent problems of the world economic situation. Yet, since the recommendations of the UNCTAD and its organs have not so far been implemented, the prospects for a speedy solution to these problems have not appeared particularly promising. It is here that the economically advanced countries can make maximum contribution and thereby help to usher in a great new age, an era of "economic liberalism."
The perpetuation of the status quo will not, in the long run, serve even the narrow interests of the few, and it will inevitably prove disastrous to the world economic situation. It is, therefore, to be ardently hoped that the governments of the economically advanced countries will rise to this challenge and join in a concerted effort to alleviate the world's economic ills which are but the root and cause of many other international problems.
As I have remarked earlier, private organizations such as the African-American Chamber of Commerce can do much to help solve present world economic problems by promoting the free flow of private capital. And it is in this respect that we would like to wish all success to the endeavours of this organization which stands to help promote the ideals of international peace and co-operation.
We thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for your hospitality and the opportunity afforded Us on this occasion to share these thoughts with you.
|Haile Selassie I|