The meeting is at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center


Top 10 Reasons to Oppose the World Trade Organization? Criticism, yes … misinformation, no!

More incorrect facts about the WTO found on websites: 

6. ‘The US adoption of the WTO was undemocratic’

The accusation

The WTO was established out of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations. On December 1, 1994 [1], Congress approved GATT under Fast Track during a lame duck session of Congress. Fast Track limits public debate by not allowing amendments [2]. The approval of the WTO required entire sections of US laws to be rewritten [3] to conform with the WTO rules, similar to the way that treaties often redefine how the US will interact with other states. Had the agreement been voted on as a treaty, requiring a two-thirds majority in the Senate, it would have been defeated.

The reality

How countries ratify the WTO agreements is an internal issue. The WTO cannot comment on the process in each country, and it cannot speculate on the result of a vote in different circumstances.

In addition, certain principles apply to all countries:

1. There was a lot of democratic public debate around the world during the almost seven years (1986-94) of the negotiations, including in the United States. The pressure of public opinion determined countries' positions in the negotiations. The final ratification period, from the signing in April 1994 to December 1994, was no more than that: a final period of a long negotiation that included more than 100 countries, not only the US.

2. All countries had the option to accept or reject the agreement. However, by 1994 any attempt to amend the agreement would have meant reopening the negotiation which had already taken seven and a half years. It would probably have killed the agreement. WTO member governments and parliaments decided that would have been the worst option.

Agreement was reached because all participating countries believed they had reached the point where on balance the benefits outweighed the discomfort, both politically and economically. Such a bargain could not have been struck if countries were allowed individually to pick and choose only the bits they preferred.

3. All countries had to face changes that were domestically unpopular. But they considered this to be outweighed by the benefits of the package. In many cases, other countries had to accept changes demanded by the United States.