Issue No.160
Newsletter of the American Forum for Global Education
2000

 

This publication provides a brief introduction to the many views surrounding issues of global trade and the WTO's role in the global economy. In this issue, you will find a special report on the need and value of the WTO by Director General Mike Moore, an overview of trade issues and the context in which the WTO operates by Debra Glassman, University of Washington; questions and ideas for classroom use; and a variety of additional viewpoints regarding the World Trade Organization. It is obvious that the role and goal of the WTO is not only an issue of economic decisions and trade but of values and differing points of view. And these differing values and-views are likely to remain with us throughout the 21st century. We hope this newsletter contributes to your understanding and continuing discussion of these important issues.

I saw many young people in the streets of Seattle. Frustrated, angry young people who are worried about globalization and who are not really sure how to address the future. These young people feel anxiety over the power of multinationals, the impression of not being heard by their government, poverty in the world, threat to the environment and a general sense that they are not in control


The World Trade Organization (WTO) held its Third Ministerial Conference in Seattle in late 1999. This meeting brought together some 2,500 official delegates from 135 member countries and many observer countries; at least 2,000 journalists from around the world; about 800 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) representing agricultural, manufacturing, labor, environmental, high-tech, financial, and other associations; and 40,000 protesters. The conference ended without achieving its objectives other than planning to continue discussing trade issues.


Since the end of World War II government officials have gathered every few years to talk about trade. These meetings were usually small gatherings that focused on highly technical matters related to reducing trade barriers. Generally ignored by the media and an uninterested public, the conferees quietly discussed ways to reduce trade barriers between nations and returned to their homes. When representatives to the World Trade Organization gathered in Seattle in December 1999, things were quite different.


To realize the full possibilities of the new economy, we must reach beyond our own borders, to shape the revolution that is tearing down barriers and building new networks among nations and individuals, economies and cultures: globalization.


The US is the world's leading trader in goods and services, accounting for about 14 percent of world exports and about 16 percent of imports. Americans benefit directly from this exchange through a greater variety of goods and services at less costly prices.
For over half a century the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and then the World Trade Organization (WTO) have played a key part in reducing barriers to trade, strengthening international laws, and encouraging economic development in a world that has become increasingly integrated.


"To realize the full possibilities of the new economy, we must reach beyond our own borders, to shape the revolution that is tearing down barriers and building new networks among nations and individuals, economies and cultures: globalization.


The US is the world's leading trader in goods and services, accounting for about 14 percent of world exports and about 16 percent of imports. Americans benefit directly from this exchange through a greater variety of goods and services at less costly prices.


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