News Release

This Month Will End in an Uproar About the WTO: Here’s Why


When the World Trade Organization global summit gets underway on Nov. 30 in Seattle, President Clinton and other top officials will be confronted by large protests there. Among the WTO critics now available for comment are:

“While 134 governments make up the WTO, it is transnational corporations that increasingly influence and benefit from international trade policy,” says Light, managing editor of the Internet magazine Corporate Watch and co-host of World Trade Watch, which will provide daily live nationwide radio coverage of the WTO summit. (The broadcasts are a co-production of Corporate Watch, the National Radio Project and the Institute for Public Accuracy.) “As the gap between rich and poor widens both within and between nations, as sweatshops proliferate and biotech companies threaten local crops and farmers, it is clear that unbridled free trade has brought neither democracy nor prosperity to most of the world’s citizens… Groups from around the world — working on a wide range of issues, from forest protection to labor rights — recognize that the seemingly arcane decisions of this world body directly impact their daily lives.”
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Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, Wallach comments: “The World Trade Organization ministerial summit has become the focus of controversy because it has sacrificed democratic decision-making on the altar of international commerce. In the five years since the WTO was established, not a single public health, safety, or environmental regulation that has been challenged has been upheld; all have been found to be ‘illegal trade barriers.’ As the fingers of the WTO work their way further into daily life — by watering down food safety rules, for example — ordinary people are increasingly concerned about its power and who influences it.”
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Research director for the Preamble Center, Weisbrot said: “The U.S. public has grown increasingly tired and suspicious of the whole process of ‘corporate globalization,’ in which the ability of multinational corporations to profit from expanding trade and commerce is assumed to be identical with the public interest. The argument here is not ‘free trade vs. protectionism,’ as it is often framed by proponents of corporate globalization looking for a straw man to beat up on. The WTO is quite protectionist, and no friend of free markets, when it comes to ‘intellectual property rights’ — patents, copyrights, and other monopolies created for the benefit of major corporations.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020 or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167