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The article "Protesters waging war against the poor, says Short" which I
recently posted to the list was from The Independent NOT The Guardian (so
send your letters to The Independent !)

The following appears in today's (30th November) Guardian. The Clare Short
bit is at the end :


Byers says WTO must modernise 

Global trade body still seen as servant of multinationals

World Trade Organisation: special report 

Larry Elliott 
Tuesday November 30, 1999 

The World Trade Organisation must transform itself into a body that
protects and defends the interests of all its 135 members and stop being
seen as the servant of global big business, Stephen Byers, the trade and
industry secretary, will say today.
In his keynote speech on the opening day of the trade talks in Seattle, Mr
Byers will emphasise that the WTO needs to modernise and reform itself if
it is to retain credibility and win the support of people and governments. 

"We cannot allow trade policies to be hijacked by narrow corporate
interests which all too often veer in favour of protectionism," Mr Byers
will say. 

"The WTO must stop being seen as a servant of multinationals and instead
assert itself as a body which will protect and defend the interests of all
its members." 

With the talks in Seattle attracting far more public attention than
previous rounds, the government believes that the WTO has a serious image
problem. The Geneva-based body is seen as "secretive and responsive to the
needs of rich industrial countries, but not to the aspirations of
developing countries and least developed countries", Mr Byers will say. 

He will add that while free trade has brought huge benefits to the world,
it is now under threat. Protectionism anywhere is a threat to prosperity
everywhere and if barriers to trade are erected and tariffs imposed it is
the poorest and most vulnerable who will lose out. 

"The organisation of world trade at a time of globalisation must be sure
that countries and people are partners in change and not victims of
change. In Seattle the questions we deal with will be complex and
technical but we must never forget that there are also human questions.
The answers we give will affect individuals, their families and their

Clare Short, the international development secretary, said that while the
WTO had become an organisation that everybody loved to hate, it was still
a big improvement on its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariff and
Trade (Gatt). 

In a speech prepared for a symposium of non-governmental organisations, Ms
Short said much of the criticism of the WTO was misplaced and that
developing countries would benefit from a broad round of trade
liberalisation talks. 

"Those who make blanket criticisms of the WTO are working against, not
for, the interests of the poor and the powerless. International trade can
be unfair and exploitative. The strong can deceive and defraud the weak.
That is precisely why we need an institution like the WTO which is
membership based and rules based - to prevent fraud, monopoly, predatory
pricing and other abuses. Just as we need rules on these issues at the
national level, so we need them at the international level." 
 Guardian Unlimited ) Guardian Newspapers Limited 1999 


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