MONITOR: WTO SUMMIT
All the News of the World
Saturday 04 December 1999
World Trade Organisation summit in Seattle
WE SALUTE the people protesting in Seattle, and join them in calling for the United States to take a leadership role in creating world trade laws that promote - not disregard, as is the case now - environmental prudence, public health, and human rights. We urge our readers to do likewise. And while we work for justice, let's put our money where our mouths are. We can support organizations working for WTO change, and we can buy prudently. The future of this planet depends on us. It's as simple as that. And as tragic as that, if we fail to do our job as custodians of the Earth and as citizens of this supposedly sovereign nation.
IF TRADE is good for everyone, the message is obviously not getting across to the masses. Trade ministers should take home the message from Seattle: that more must be done to educate their citizens on the role of globalization and trade liberalization.
THERE SIMPLY is no place for a trade organization that doesn't place the public's priorities first. It sounds ominous, but there is hope. Thousands of people have figured out that the WTO was created for chemical and biotech companies, the oil companies and the drug companies. Not for you and me. As a result, Seattle is seeing some of the most enthusiastic peaceful protest in a generation. It wasn't that long ago that we Americans threw out the British for "taxation without representation" and a string of indignities that became too much to bear. Likewise, the seemingly all- powerful WTO will not survive if it continues to insult our democratic soul with indignities that even King George couldn't have dreamed up. The Seattle protests are the new Tea Party.
south China Morning Post
THE MOTLEY throng of protesters who caused such mayhem at the WTO meeting in Seattle appeared to materialize out of thin air. And yet it seems likely that the well-organized - though amazingly disparate - groups were able to make contact and plot strategy via computers. Many countries can expect more of this co-ordinated action in the future... The pressing questions are how these difficulties can be lessened and how concerned groups can be given a voice before their frustration creates scenes like those witnessed in Seattle.
THE WHITE House's reverse spin on trade has been startling if not transparently cosmetic. You might half-expect Clinton to don one of the sea turtle get- ups next time he speaks out on the WTO. Clinton's rhetorical shift on trade - that the WTO would have to listen to the concerns of the peaceful protesters - is likely to have little success in deflating the protests against corporate-managed trade policies. He won't be around to reap the freakishly altered crop that he has sown. But his successor surely will. Seattle is only the beginning. (Marc Cooper)
New York Times
AS HE showed this week, President Clinton does understand the inherent contradictions of the free-trade argument. It cannot be assumed that businesses and countries will get richer and do the right thing. World trade has provided enormous benefits to our country. And, yes, the violence in Seattle should be condemned. But let's hope that Clinton's statements end the argument that free trade solves all, or any, social ills. If free trade is to serve its intended purpose, we must ensure that it does not result in a race to the bottom, or lead to global government and threaten our sovereignty. (Robert E Lighthizer)
SHOCKED BY US growth, afraid of not being up to scratch with the new technology, and conditioned by corporations that don't want to lose their privileges, we have brushed up concepts such as cultural defence. We have demanded that this meeting confront problems such as consumer health, the environment and cultural diversity. The damage has been done, and there is little use today in remembering the benefits of free world trade. It would be better to confront the emerging problems, assess their importance accurately and try to tackle them.
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