New World Trade
Organization Director-General Mike Moore underscored his priorities for the upcoming
Seattle Ministerial Conference during his first media briefing in Geneva since assuming
his post on 1 September.
Mr. Moore, the first
non-European to head the WTO, stressed the importance of achieving a balanced outcome in
Seattle which addresses the needs of all WTO member governments.
greeted the launch of the Uruguay Round with apathy, the possibility of launching a new
round in Seattle will be met with far greater emotions, some positive, some not so
positive," he said.
"This time we
will not be able to complain about apathy. In the absence of global conflict between
'isms' some people have chosen to focus their fury on globalism. Thus the WTO has become a
target for abuse. This will necessitate new skills at governmental and at the
international level to communicate and engage those citizens especially in the wealthy
nations who will protest and march and call for barriers to be built to keep out products
from poor countries which desperately need the opportunity to work and produce incomes for
their families. Even in developed countries large numbers of people have problems with
international trade. Yet tens of millions of jobs in OECD countries are directly related
to exports and overseas investment.
"A third of new
US jobs are export related. As the global economy evolves, a major duty for the WTO's
Director-General is to make the case for keeping the markets of the rich nations open to
products from poorer countries. Imagine the economic - then social and political -
implications if the markets of the North were closed during the recent Asian crisis?
a moral issue as well. A world now exists polarised by poverty and opportunity as it was
once polarised by the cold war. I will judge my term in office by how much we could
improve the conditions and opportunities of the most vulnerable economies.
is the priority, but the Seattle Ministerial will only be judged a success if there is a
balanced outcome. We need to assist all member governments to engage in the process. Thus
we need to increase the levels and focus of technical assistance from the WTO and other
sources to make this happen.
WTO is not the GATT and the Seattle Ministerial Meeting will not be like the Punta del
Este launch. This is the cynical 90s and not the optimistic 80s. During the long months of
the selection process, many ambassadors told me in no uncertain terms what is expected of
a Director-General and the rules-based institution he manages on behalf of its member
duties and priorities are clear:
facilitate and assist countries to get the most balanced outcome from the negotiations, an
outcome which truly benefits the more vulnerable economies.
advocate the advantages both for the great nations and the more modest nations of a more
open trading system and how that can increase living standards and build a more
prosperous, safer world.
strengthen the WTO and its system and rules, to build on and maintain its reputation for
integrity and fairness, and to re-shape the organization to reflect the new reality of its
Membership and their needs.
eyes are directed now at the Seattle Ministerial - hopes are high. Our goal is very clear,
it's better living standards for all our people. Because it is through higher living
standards that we achieve better health care, superior education systems, and a safer,
better, environment. It's time now for me and colleagues in Geneva and capitals to roll up
our sleeves and get to work."