Let me begin by paying
tribute to our hosts, the United States of America, for its wisdom, leadership and
strength in hosting this important conference.
are due to our chairperson, Charlene Barshefsky, who will lead us over the next few days
and to the WTO Secretariat for their dedication and professionalism.
behalf of you all, I want to thank our host city Seattle and its leaders and people. At
the time no one believed this conference would attract so much attention. 50,000 guests,
many of them even invited.
conference is doomed - doomed to succeed. Despite our differences inside and outside this
chamber, the WTO will succeed because it is too important to fail. Too much is at stake.
It's true we faced problems in Geneva. A brick wall of "insurmountable
opportunities". We were unable to get for Ministers an agreed single text. That was
true of other times when we launched rounds.
WTO is a new organization. We represent 135 sovereign governments - from every region,
every culture, every stage of development. China is now poised to join us, and many other
countries are waiting impatiently in line. There may be 50,000 outside the conference
centre but we have 1.5 billion people wanting to join.
all realize that no nation can now enjoy clean water, air, manage an airline, even
organise a tax system or hope to contain or cure AIDS or cancer without the co-operation
the Berlin wall came down, when Nelson Mandela was freed, when the Colonels went back into
their barracks, elsewhere, the world celebrated. We celebrated the universal values of
political and economic freedom. No one shouted, cursed and swore about the evils of
mother with a sick child wants the best the world has to offer from science, no one wants
the old technology when they go to the dentist. They don't complain then about global or
have some empathy with some of these protestors outside. Not all are bad or mad.
are right when they say they want a safer, cleaner more healthy planet. They are correct
when they call for an end to poverty, more social justice, better living standards.
are wrong to blame the WTO for all the world's problems. They are especially wrong when
they say this is not a democratic house. Ministers are here because their people decided
so. Our agreements must be agreed by Parliaments. This is a Ministerial Conference.
know much of the so called Geneva "deadlock" is tactical. The suggestion from
one developing country to hold progress on e-commerce until there is a better deal on
implementation, sounds fine in Geneva. Refusing e-commerce is the modern equivalent of
resisting railways, roads and electricity. The beauty of this balanced package we will
work through is that everyone must win.
Geneva, we have worked for a year and more to prepare the ground for new negotiations, and
to set out our work programme for the future. Your representatives have worked extremely
hard - and progress has been made.
the fact remains that we have not bridged our differences. Three times we asked capitals
for more flexibility to conclude a deal. But three times a decision was made not to
give ambassadors more room. You made that decision. You made the decision that certain
issues only Seattle could resolve. I understand that. You are Ministers, you were elected,
so responsibility ultimately rests with you.
of us recognize, deep down, that a broad and balanced new trade round is in our shared
interest because all of us have vital national issues at stake.
developing countries are experiencing difficulty implementing certain WTO commitments
which they want addressed before taking on new obligations. And just as important, they
need greater access for their exports. These issues are especially pressing for the
smallest and most vulnerable among the developing countries.
countries are dependent on agricultural exports - and they want the kind of access which
they feel has been denied them in previous rounds. Still others want new rule-making in
areas like electronic commerce, investment, competition policy, transparency in government
procurement, and trade facilitation. Then there are those who believe an examination of
the relationship between trade and social issues needs to be started if we are to give
globalization a human face.
concerns of the least-developed must not be left behind. What is the real cost to the
wealthiest nations of dropping barriers to their exports - when these exports represent
just half a per cent of world trade? If we cannot make this small concession to the
poorest amongst us, what hope is there for our grand commitment to poverty eradication in
the 21st century? The least-developed countries are not threatened by
globalization. They are threatened by "de-globalization", falling outside of the
world economy and slipping ever further behind. This is not the fault of the trading
system. Governments themselves have responsibilities. Some governments are paying up to
nine times more on debt repayment then on health. The heavy hand of history has its thumb
on the windpipe of many member Governments.
face a huge agenda. Some argue it should be made smaller, more manageable, less
controversial. But whose interests would we advance? Whose would we ignore? And when is
the right time to tackle the hard issues? Next year? Another Ministerial? Next Round? The
risk of financial crises or further marginalization of the poor are not challenges that
lie in some far-off future which we can contemplate in a detached or academic way. They
are already with us. They are on the table in Seattle whether we put them there or not.
And they demand answers.
consider how interconnected we are. A quarter of global output now crosses national
borders - and this share is even higher for developing countries, almost 40 per cent of
their GDP. Developing countries need a secure and stable world trading system as much as
anyone. They need more openness, not less. Stronger rules, not weaker ones. As much as
anyone, they need new trade negotiations to expand their markets, open up their own
economies, and to undertake reforms. The future of the global economy lies with them. They
are the customers of the future, the living
of the wealthy nations will rely on purchasing power of the poorer nations in the next
am optimistic. I believe that beyond our immediate differences, there is broad agreement
about the kind of balanced negotiation that is needed. But I also know that mistakes can
be made. Missteps or misunderstandings could still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
cost of failure is high. The poor can't wait, science and technology won't
me it's a simple proposition. The first half of this century was marked by force and
coercion. The next century ought to be one marked by persuasion not coercion. Of States
settling their differences through that great equaliser, the law. Of a binding disputes
mechanism, to settle differences, of engagement and interdependence.
from a small country but I don't see what we are doing here as a threat to our
sovereignty. I see interdependence as a guarantor of our sovereignty and safety. The
small, the vulnerable and the poorest among our family need our organization and success
in Seattle more than most.
recall a splendid comment of Julius Nyerere who claimed that as each village's wealth once
depended on its neighbour's ability to purchase, this is now true of nations. Our parents
learnt from the great depression, made deeper and more lethal by rising trade barriers
from which came the twin tyrannies of our age, fascism and marxism, thus war; hot and
swore it would not happen again, and they created an international architecture which
included the UN, IMF, World Bank, and the GATT, now the WTO, to achieve that peaceful
purpose and noble vision.
we as good as our parents? Can we lift our vision beyond narrow national briefs written in
decision is whether we march boldly with confidence, compassion and vision into the next
millennium or limp forward bogged down in a swamp of indecision paralysed by vested
interests. I ask you to think of these brave men and women from the 1940's and others who
most recently tore down the walls of economic and political oppression.
gently on those who have never had much anyway. Those who come here from the poorest
countries, the most distant islands and valleys who simply want a chance. Not favours, but
we want Seattle to fail we need do nothing at all. We can return to capitals with our
interests uncontaminated by compromise. We can tell our citizens that we defended their
positions to the very last line of text. But what would that mean? Would we celebrate
stopping the developing countries from getting a fairer deal? That we left a more unstable
and insecure world? That we stopped progress? Thats the equivalent of celebrating
Europe NOT enlarging. That's like celebrating a new Berlin Wall going up.
a new year rises, a new century rises, a new millennium arrives. Let's welcome it with
confidence. I do, because too much is at stake for us to falter, be timid or to fail.