During the financial disturbances of 1997-98 the good sense of governments and WTO
rules kept markets open, providing a critical base for recovery. Seldom have the gains
from trade been so evident. This is the background that takes us to Seattle, a background
that provides ample reason for confidence in the benefits of a strong, open, rules-based
multilateral trading system.
Compare this to the
situation when we launched the Uruguay Round. Growth was sluggish and market-sharing
arrangements were becoming the order of the day. Faith in the system was fading. Yet
against this background, and admittedly with the help of world events, we managed to
produce path-breaking agreements and to establish our Organization, one that is
accountable to its member governments, which now have a fully fledged forum to address the
trade concerns of their people, to whom they in turn are accountable.
time the atmosphere is better and surely now we can build on this, and on the achievements
of the Uruguay Round and subsequent negotiations, to further strengthen our system,
particularly to ensure that its advantages and benefits accrue to all. That is my ambition
for Seattle: that we establish a balanced work programme and that we launch negotiations
that result in a balanced and fair outcome for all our Members.
not all share in our confidence in the benefits of the multilateral trading system. There
is unease about globalization. There are those who feel less secure and are worried and
uncertain. Some see globalization as a threat. But globalization is a fact; we cannot
retreat from it and nor should we want to it holds benefits for us all and we need
to take steps to ensure that the prosperity that flows from globalization is accessible to
all. In Seattle we must continue to deal with the unease, for some of the criticisms are
agree on very little but they all agree on one thing perhaps the only thing
that these two-handed people do agree on the gains from trade. From this
perspective it should be a matter of enormous concern to us that the least-developed
countries together, forty-eight countries, hold a share of no more than one-half of one
percent of world trade. Are these countries really benefiting from the system? I agree,
there are a lot of causes, many beyond the scope of the WTO, but we in the WTO must do our
part: let us resolve in Seattle that we will do what we can to better integrate the LDCs
into the benefits of our system. For this, two steps are essential, and they should be
high on our Seattle agenda, for immediate action:
access for LDC products to markets. This will not cost a lot, and it will show that we are
serious about dealing with the problems of inequality and exclusion; and
cooperation. Capacity building is difficult; implementation of obligations is often hard.
Expertise is required. In Singapore we took the first steps towards the Framework for
establishing meaningful cooperation. We need to go further and to do so we need the
financial resources. In Seattle let us be generous. I stress this in the context of our
LDC Members but the need is equally urgent for many of our developing Members: the ongoing
health of the multilateral trading system requires that we address this need for technical
our agenda should go beyond this. Sound domestic policies, that are well understood by the
public at large, and good governance are fundamental determinants of progress.
Transparency is a key. In this the trading system can and should help. To this end
decisions in Seattle to move to agreements on Transparency in Government Procurement and
Trade Facilitation would be a modest start albeit with a profound message. So too would be
a renewal of our determination to work with the Fund and the Bank on coherence of
international policy-making: we have agreements with the Fund and the Bank and we have the
"coherence mandate" we now need to build on these to ensure that trade,
financial and development policies are fully supportive of each other.
we need to ensure that we are understood. A decision in Seattle to continue our efforts to
improve the transparency of the WTO and to implement more regular outreach initiatives
will help build understanding and support for our efforts. That trade and environmental
policies can be mutually supportive is an obvious example but it is far from the only one
- trade is good for the consumer and like the tide, it can raise all boats. But there are
adjustment costs and there are those who perceive inequities in globalization. Clearly,
appropriate social policies need to accompany liberalization; it is part of the
accountability of governments to their people. In this manner we all benefit.
will launch negotiations in Seattle agriculture and services are already on the
built-in agenda. Tariffication of quantitative restrictions in agriculture was sound
because it exposed the high levels of protection on many products. Our task now is to
begin to reduce these high tariffs and to deal with the issue of subsidies and support
systems. This will be delicate because it involves diverse social priorities but we should
remember that the comparative advantage of many developing countries lies in producing
food. It is simply not fair to hamper their opportunity to export competitive products.
can deny the benefits to all of firmer rules and liberalization in services? Services
comprises well over half of most of our economies; further liberalization will make our
exports more competitive, create better jobs and advance the welfare of our consumers.
is this enough? Will we extend market access negotiations to other products as well? I
think in particular of tariff peaks and escalation and of the addition of value to raw
materials activity that has often led industrial development. And what of the
rules, the security and predictability of our trading environment; should we strengthen
them and perhaps extend them to new areas? These are matters on which we do not yet agree,
and the time for engagement is now. In Seattle we need to set the path for trade relations
for the future.
I said at the start of my remarks, the Overview suggests that the moment is promising. We
have witnessed a striking example of the benefits of our trading system; now is the right
moment to build. And in building by drawing all countries into our system, by
strengthening the rules and by making more readily available the gains from trade I
urge you to remember that trade is not the end: it is a means to progress, a tried and
trusted vehicle for advancement, prosperity and a safer, better world for us all.