It is a useful
initiative to have in parallel to this Ministerial Conference, this the first assembly of
get deeply offended when people say the WTO is not democratic. Take the case of the Indian
Ambassador in Geneva. It takes about 300 million people to elect a Government in India.
That Government survives at the pleasure of its elected MP's. The Government through its
Minister, who is accountable to Cabinet, his Prime Minister, his party, his caucus and to
the Parliament and then to his electors at home and to the wider vote to enable his
government to function. That's accountability. That's how it should be. And that is how it
is for most countries who are members of the WTO. The system changes from nation to
nation, but the principles of accountability are the same.
WTO is member driven, thus driven by Governments, Congresses and Parliaments. Every two
years our Ministers meet to give us guidance. Our agreements must be agreed and ratified
by members and Parliaments.
this assembly of parliamentarians and elected legislators is an important and, I hope,
permanent part of our process.
of those who protest miss these fundamental steps by which we operate. We operate from and
by consensus. Any nation can and does block progress. Any nation can pull out of the WTO
given six month's notice.
member of parliament said to me it's fine you are talking to non-government organizations,
how about government organizations, it's us who sustain the government of the day. He was
right. We should do both.
when I was talking about non-governmental organizations and their proper, correct and
democratic influence on governments, an ambassador from a non-resident country asked us at
the WTO to reach out more to him. As a government representative, about 30 countries
cannot even afford to keep missions in Geneva. So, we have reached out. I've been in the
job a few months, my deputies started last week. But we organised a seminar for
non-residents to brief their officials fully on what is happening in Seattle. We have web
pages, reference centres and are using the new technologies to keep in touch.
issue that raises its head frequently is sovereignty. Is the nation state surrendering its
legitimate rights and prerogatives to global institutions?
a valid question. I come from a small country but I've always seen my nation's integrity
and independence enhanced by international institutions, treaties and agreements.
the modern world we know that without co-operation and agreements sovereign governments
cannot function and advance their national interests.
congress or parliament alone can guarantee clean air or water, even run a tax system, an
airline, combat AIDS and cancer without the co-operation of others.
the base constituency must be the nation state. We in the WTO are member driven, rules
driven. Our member states direct our progress. And that's how it should be.
hope in the future to spend more time with congressional committees and parliamentary
groups, because that is where the greatest assembly of popular opinion resides. That's
where those who correctly want to scrutinise, criticise and improve our play, live.
an awesome task, our total expenditure is less than the IMF's travel budget. The World
Wildlife Fund has a budget three times ours.
within our constraints of time and resources I will do better. I never refuse to meet with
elected politicians if I am in Geneva and it is possible.
word millennium is overdone, but we do face a new century so it is worthwhile reflecting
on the future and to see what we can learn from the past.
WTO, earlier the GATT, was first envisaged by our brave parents who saw it as a sister
organization to the UN, ILO, IMF, and the World Bank. They served in uniform, my
generation serves in suites and ties. They lived through the great depression and saw how
it was prolonged and made more deadly because of protectionism. That depression and the
Treaty of Versailles made war almost inevitable and from that came the great tyrannies of
our age, fascism and marxism. They said never, never again and we and the other
institutions in the global architecture were created to be owned by the people via their
this time, we have experienced the greatest period of sustained growth and rise in living
standards than at any time in our history.
incredible generation that did something else unique is world history. They the victors
held out their hands and forgave their adversaries, reached into their own pockets and
created the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe. The mirror opposite of what
happened in 1918. And it worked. Does anyone now think it would have been a better world
without the Marshall Plan? Does anyone think the world would be better without a European
Union? Should we NOT celebrate an enlarging European Union and a successful Japan? Would
it be better if China did not join the WTO? What's wrong with having Russia and China as
part of a rules-based system?
system has done well. During the Asian crisis many predicted the end of the global economy
and suggested we had gone too far. Yet because of sound policy in the affected economies
and the generosity of the US, Japan and Europe who kept their markets open, Asia is coming
back. They held their nerve.
the Berlin wall came down, when Nelson Mandela was freed, when the Colonels went back into
their barracks, elsewhere, the world celebrated. They celebrated the universal values of
political and economic freedom. No one shouted, cursed and swore about the evils of
here we are at Seattle, 30,000 people, many even invited. We meet against a background of
hostility and anger. I know all our critics are not wrong, bad or mad. But just
occasionally we ought to remind ourselves of our core values and our core business.
we want more jobs and more successful businesses so we can get the tax take to pay for
these dreams we all have for health care, education and to look after the elderly.
believe that trade and business is the most powerful generator to achieve these ends.
in itself is not enough, too many countries are marginalised. One African Member pays up
to nine times more on debt repayments than on health. Cutting trade, preventing the spread
of ideas, medicine, literature and information and investment will not help, it will make
it worse. While we have our critics outside, over 1.5 billion people want to join. Why?
Several hundred Ministers and political leaders are here now in Seattle. Why? Because it
matters. I don't want to see us limp into the next century with a whine and a splutter.
should march boldly, recognising the contradictions and difficulties, but firmly resolved
to begin to negotiate a package text that is balanced. We have differences. That's
legitimate, welcome and not surprising.
need to ensure developing countries have a fairer place at the table. Especially the
least-developed nations who account for 0.5% of world trade, and when they have a
competitive export advantage they are frequently locked out. This is wrong.
countries need time and technical assistance to digest and implement their commitments.
This can be done. We need to get closer on agriculture, investment, competition and use
this opportunity to advance win/win situations, in the transparency of government
procurement, trade facilitation and how that helps good governance.
should be decisive about market access, welcome what e-commerce can do for every nation
and begin to negotiate a balanced package within three years. I know of the interest
sovereign congresses and parliaments have in these subjects. In the end, they will have
the decisive say. Too much of this century was marked by force and coercion. We need to
ensure that the next century is one of persuasion, where differences are settled within
institutional law, through proper agreed dispute mechanisms.
works for the most mighty nation as it does for the most modest nation. It represents a
new enlightened age of international and civilized behaviour.
should this day pay our respects to our parents who in their wisdom gave birth, from the
horror of personal experience, to institutions like the GATT, now the WTO, so it can do
its job after instructions from governments and parliaments to bring order and the rule of
law to our commercial, political, cultural and social differences.
proud to represent an institution that is owned and driven by its member states. I am the
Director-General. I'm not really a Director, even less am I a General. I am, I guess, a
navigator, a facilitator and a public servant.