cj#1082> AN ACTIVIST AMONGST THE ROBBER BARONS

2000-04-11

Richard Moore

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From: "Brian Hill" <•••@••.•••>
To: "Doug Hunt" <•••@••.•••>, "TOES" <•••@••.•••>
Bcc: •••@••.•••
Subject: Fw: restoring the WTO's momentum
Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2000 18:25:27 -0700

-----Original Message-----
From: Sarah van Gelder <•••@••.•••>
To: •••@••.••• <•••@••.•••>; •••@••.•••
<•••@••.•••>
Date: Friday, April 07, 2000 17:17
Subject: restoring the WTO's momentum


Progressive Review,•••@••.•••,inet writes:

    AN ACTIVIST AMONGST
    THE ROBBER BARONS

[Bruce Silverglade of the Center for Science in the Public
Interest managed to get himself invited to a day-long
high-level seminar on "After Seattle: Restoring Momentum to
the WTO." Speakers included Clayton Yeutter (former
Secretary of Agriculture), Robert Litan (former Associate
Director of the White House Office of Management and
Budget), Lawrence Eagleburger (former Secretary of State),
and Luiz Felipe Lamreia, the foreign Minster of Brazil. His
fly-on-the-wall report is worth quoting at some length]:

I was disappointed that only one representative like myself
from a non-profit organization concerned about the impact of
the WTO on food safety regulation was invited.  But I was
pleased that the door had been opened and I looked forward
to [it].

. . . As it turned out, I got a lot more than I bargained
for. The= seminar ~ turned out to be a strategy session on
how to defeat those opposed to the current WTO system. 
Apparently, no one knew who I was (perhaps my graying
temples and dark suit helped me blend in with the
overwhelming older male group of attendees) and I did not
speak up until the end of the meeting.

The meeting was kicked off by a gentleman named Lord
Patterson who was Margaret Thatcher's Secretary of State for
Trade and Industry. He began by stating that our number one
job is to restore confidence in the WTO before embarking on
any new rounds of trade negotiations.  So far, so good, I=
thought.

But he then proclaimed that non-profit groups have no right
to criticize the WTO as undemocratic because the groups
themselves do not represent the general public. (I wondered
which groups he was talking about because organizations that
are gravely concerned about the impact of the WTO on
environmental and consumer protection, like the Sierra Club
and Public Citizen, have hundreds of thousands of members).
He then stated that we must never have another WTO meeting
on US soil because it was too easy for advocacy groups to
organize here and security could not be assured . . .  He
added that President Clinton's speech during the WTO meeting
in Seattle, in which the president acknowledged the
protesters' concerns, was "disgraceful" and stated that it
was also disgraceful that delegates to the WTO meeting in
Seattle had to survive on sandwiches and couldn't get a
decent meal during three days of social protest. The Lord
finished his speech by recalling better times having tea
with Maggie, and stating that the staff of the WTO
Secretariat ~ should not be balanced with people from
developing countries just because of the color of their
skin.  After a few words with the chairman of the meeting,
Lord Patterson added "Oh, I hope I have not offended
anyone."

. . . The largely American audience of trade officials and
policy wonks took the Lord's pronouncements seriously. The
first comment by an American, picked up on the criticisms
and asked 'How can we de-legitimize the NGOs?' The
questioner claimed that these groups are usually supported
by just a few charitable foundations and if the foundations
could be convinced to cut off funding, the groups would be
forced to cease operations.  Mr. Litan, the former White
House budget official, had another approach.  He [asked]
can't we give the NGOs other sandboxes to play in and have
them take their concerns to groups like the International
Labor Organization (a toothless United Nations
sponsored-group).  The representative from the US Trade
Representative's office said nothing.

. . . Under the banner of rebuilding public confidence in
the WTO, [former Agriculture Secretary] Yeutter concurred
with his British colleague's suggestion that the next WTO
meeting be held in some place other than the US where
security can be assured.  He further suggested that the WTO
give the public little advance notice of where the meeting
would be held to keep the protesters off balance.  He said
that the protesters' demands for greater transparency in WTO
proceedings was a misnomer because the protesters didn't
really want to participate in WTO proceedings -- all they
wanted was to get TV coverage and raise money for their
organizations.

. . . The day ended with the usual Washington reception  . .
. During desert, the foreign minister of Brazil lamented
that if the next WTO meeting had to be held in an out of the
way place, he preferred that it be held on a cruise ship
instead of in the middle of the desert. He then gave an
impassioned speech in which he opposed writing core labor
standards into the WTO agreement and defended child labor by
describing how in one region of Brazil, more than 5,000
children "help their families earn a little extra money" by
hauling bags of coal from a dump yard to a steel mill.  He
stressed, however, that the children do not work directly in
the steel mill. He was greeted by a hearty round of applause.

INSTITUTE FOR AGRICULTURE AND TRADE POLICY http://www.iatp.org

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Richard K Moore
Wexford, Ireland
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance 
email: •••@••.••• 
CDR website: http://cyberjournal.org
cyberjournal archive: http://members.xoom.com/centrexnews/
book in progress: http://cyberjournal.org/cdr/gri.html

                A community will evolve only when
                the people control their means of communication.
                        -- Frantz Fanon

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