News Release

Road to Seattle: Key Battles on WTO


WASHINGTON — In the lead-up to the World Trade Organization ministerial summit in Seattle next week, U.S. trade representative Charlene Barshefsky spoke at the National Press Club today. But critics charge that she is speaking on behalf of discredited U.S. trade policies.

Director of the Citizens Trade Campaign, Nova said Tuesday afternoon: “Barshefsky can’t see the forest for the trees. The fundamental issue in Seattle is not the bickering between the U.S., the European Union and Japan over the scope of a new trade round. The issue is the massive public opposition, in the U.S. and around the globe, to the very idea of a new round. The WTO — and the administration’s entire trade agenda — have earned the distrust of most Americans. That is why tens of thousands of people will be in Seattle marching in protest.”
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Program director at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Dawkins said: “The more people know about it, the more they don’t like it. The WTO is responsible for decisions affecting everybody: our pocketbooks, health, career options, and many other day-to-day matters affecting the overall quality of our lives. And yet most people have never heard of it! That shouldn’t be a surprise, it’s on purpose — the purpose of the rich getting richer. Most bureaucrats won’t admit it, but high-level government officials from time to time have let it slip: they want the WTO to undo the laws of our land, so the Fortune 500 will be unrestricted to increase profits. Of course, if that means they give greater campaign contributions to the ‘free traders,’ so be it! That’s why average Americans object, once they figure it out.”
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Co-director and economist for the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development, and author of Stuck in the Mud? International Investment Rules and the Environment, Zarsky said: “Washington continues to push fast track liberalization on the world and asks American environmentalists for support. They say they’ll take our concerns into account, but they don’t — not fundamentally. They just keep bulldozing in the same old direction — which is creating larger and larger social gaps, both within the U.S. and globally — and faster and faster ecological degradation. Now it’s gotten to the point where a lot of people are saying or even screaming ‘Stop!’ What the WTO needs to do is to slow down, take stock, and set a new course. In the U.S. and globally, we need to promote not just any kind of economic growth, but ecologically sustainable and socially just growth. That will require a new approach to trade and investment rules. At the moment, we don’t have global environmental standards, and nations are all looking over their shoulders to make sure they don’t lose competitiveness in global markets. That’s not a formula for sustainable economic development.”
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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