Letter: Seattle notes

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL MEACHER is to be congratulated for his refreshing candour about the inflammatory role of the police in the Battle of Seattle, as well as about the shenanigans that went on inside the meeting ("It's endless in Seattle as the fixers hit town", 5 December). Few people realise how bad things could have been had the talks not collapsed and the draft document under discussion been passed.

These points included the EU's desire to reintroduce the basics of the discredited multilateral agreement on investment, which would have caused enormous harm to the Third World's nascent industrial and service sectors. In return, the EU seemed ready to allow the US to reduce tariffs on items such as wood, fish, chemical and energy products. Taking wood - this was expected to result in an increase in wood consumption and logging and deforestation in the already threatened forests of countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

Any new trade talks are unlikely next year because of the US election. This gives time for a global debate about changing the purpose of trade rules away from liberalisation and towards the protection of communities and the environment through a new emphasis on local trade.

COLIN HINES

East Twickenham, Middlesex

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