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Research and DataSeptember 3 1999

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  Comment / Letters
WTO MEETING: The real challenge is to restore confidence

From Mr Bill Jordan and others.


International business leaders have called for a new "trade and investment liberalisation package" to be launched at the World Trade Organisation's ministerial meeting in Seattle this autumn, so as to "send a positive signal to investors and traders the world over" (Letters, August 31).

The real challenge facing our government representatives in Seattle is a more fundamental one: nothing less than to restore the confidence of working people and their families throughout the world that the global trade and investment system does work in their interest.

Public concern is at an unprecedented level regarding the impact of the trading system on serious issues such as genetically modified crops, the destruction of the environment, child labour, workers' rights abuses, growing job insecurity and widening inequality. WTO rules negotiated and implemented by trade bureaucrats behind closed doors are seen to permit and, in some cases, encourage the exploitation of labour and the degradation of the environment.

If the negotiations on a new round, which may begin in Seattle, are not to be met with a public backlash they must be designed to promote employment and living standards in developed and developing countries. They must also incorporate effective rules to govern the trading system's impact on labour rights and the environment. The international trade union movement, representing workers in both developing and developed countries alike, therefore calls on governments to start talks at Seattle on the links between the International Labour Organisation's fundamental workers' rights and the liberalisation of international trade through the WTO.

Bill Jordan,
general secretary,
International Confederation Free Trade Unions

Willy Thys,
general secretary,
World Confederation of Labor,

John Evans,
general secretary,
Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD

Emilio Gabaglio,
general secretary,
European Trade Union Confederation

Related Links

CHINA: Beijing shows renewed enthusiasm for WTO

WTO: Beijing must join, says new chief of trade body

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