Ruggiero's speeches, 1995-99
Ladies and Gentlemen
is a pleasure to welcome you, it is good you are here and I look
forward to the discussions, debate, exchanges and differences over the
next two days.
of us has perfect knowledge; anything can be improved, that is why
gatherings such as this are important. I would like to see them as a
permanent, regular feature of the WTO's activities — budgeted for,
planned for, and useful to Member Governments, our staff and the wider
welcome scrutiny, it makes us stronger and more accountable. Thank you
to those who have made this event possible through financial
contributions: Canada, European Commission, Japan, Netherlands,
Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.
debate about globalization means we are now closely scrutinized. I
welcome this attention. The WTO does important work and decisions
taken by our institution affect the lives of ordinary men and women
all over the world. It is right that we should be held accountable.
recognized the need for international and regional responses to
problems we have in common. No single nation alone can combat Aids,
clean the environment, run a tax system and manage airlines without
the cooperation of others. This is why we have established
institutions and treaties such as the UN, ILO, WTO, World Bank, and
the Law of the Sea. But there has not been a corresponding dedication
of political resources, time, finance and focus to hold us more
accountable to our owner Governments and the people.
our initiatives such as the recent IPU Meeting of Parliamentarians on
Trade Issues and symposia such as this, we are encouraging greater
involvement from all sectors of political and civil society to help us
do a better job.
and consumers want more information and control, greater
accountability and greater ownership. They want to know what their
governments are doing not just nationally but also internationally.
This is a good thing. Globally, we are now more prosperous and
relations between states are more peaceful than ever before in world
history. Yet many people feel alienated from power and ownership.
Ministers now often find their toughest negotiations are not with each
other but at home inside their Parliaments and Congresses, with
coalition parties, cabinet colleagues, civil society, Member states.
It is tougher than in my day.
is not new. It is a process, not a policy. Historians argue that there
were higher levels of trade, and certainly a greater movement of
people, one hundred years ago than there are today. What is new is
that everyone knows about it, has an opinion and that is good. The
questions of how we manage change is what we are here to discuss. Some
think if you abolished the WTO then you would abolish globalization. I
believe that the civilized answer to differences is rules and law.
What brings the WTO into this debate is our dispute settlement system,
which binds outcomes legally. Good people are puzzled. Why, they ask,
can we have a binding system for trade but not the for environment,
labour, children and gender rights, human rights, animal rights,
indigenous rights? Why can we not settle differences that drive
nations and tribes to war in a similar way? Good point. I am sure that
Kofi Annan would relish such a system. Critics, who are not all mad or
bad, frequently say we have too much power. Some of them want to give
us more powers and responsibilities. It is also about jurisdiction. In
which international institution should these powers and
responsibilities reside? We need to recognize the gaps in the
international architecture. For example, there is no powerful, funded,
global environmental agency. There should be. Heavy, fresh and
creative thinking must be done about the roles, functions,
jurisdictions, obligations, management and mandates of all
international institutions and how we deliver our services. This is
where those not captured by process and bureaucracy can help the
debate. I would welcome your views. A dear friend called our process
and culture “medieval”. Hopefully, we are moving into an age of
enlightenment, made brighter by the illumination of the information
age, which will allow us to communicate in ways never dreamed of by
WTO is made up of 142 Members and operates on a basis of consensus.
This means all Members are equal under the rules. It means all Members
have the right to participate in decision-making. Consensus means all
Members have veto power. WTO agreements are negotiated by Ambassadors
representing their respective countries. Before the agreements enter
into force, they are referred back to Governments. Governments are in
turn accountable to parliaments who are responsible for passing
legislation because our agreements must be ratified by legislators.
Every two years, we are held accountable and given direction at a
are steadily improving the position and participation of non-resident
WTO members and helping more modest missions in our work in Geneva.
Work is underway by Members in important areas of internal and
owners jealously defend their rights and prerogatives. Even having
these symposia is controversial and not universally supported. Let me
share why. Many Ministers and Ambassadors say it is not the job of the
WTO to embrace NGOs and civil society. They say that should be done at
the national level in the formation of national policy positions. They
are correct but only 90% correct.
because I have been so polite and have given you a message of welcome,
may I ask for your assistance. Nothing upsets our owners more than the
mindless, undemocratic enemies of the open society who have as a
stated aim the prevention of Ministers and our leaders from even
meeting. Imagine the attitude of the Minister from South Africa who
was imprisoned during South Africa's struggle for freedom when faced
with this attitude in the streets of Seattle. Or the Swedish Minister
who wanted to focus on issues of sustainable development, Aids and how
to extend freedoms we take for granted across a wider Europe, yet had
his leader's conference attacked.
would strengthen the hand of those who seek change if NGOs distance
themselves from masked stone-throwers who claim to want more
transparency, anti-globalization dot.com-types who trot out slogans
that are trite, shallow and superficial. This will not do as a
substitute for civilized discourse.
is to blame? There is enough blame for all of us to share. Perhaps we
could consider new principles of engagement. A debate should be held
and understandings reached between civil society, the international
institutions and Governments for a code of conduct that could include:
rejection of violence
from NGOs as to their membership, their finances, their rules of
business and foundations should insist on rules of transparency
and adhere to an agreed “code”, before they provide funding.
and their institutions should, in return, give those who follow such
rules a stake in the process. And we need to accept that there is a
fundamental difference between transparency and participation on the
one hand and negotiations on the other — which in the end only
Governments can do.
a group wish to help draft such a set of guidelines, I promise to look
at it and talk to other institutions and Governments.
me turn briefly to the current WTO work programme. Key decisions will
be taken in the weeks and months ahead — decisions that will have a
far-reaching impact on the future of the world trading system. At the
Ministerial Conference to take place in Doha in November, we must
leave the WTO stronger and more open, ready to play its full part in
international trade relations. To achieve this, I believe we must
launch a new round or a wider set of negotiations. There are several
reasons why we need this.
economic argument for a new round is compelling. Cutting by a third
barriers to trade in agriculture, manufacturing and services would
boost the world economy by $613 billion, according to one study from
Michigan University. That is equivalent to adding an economy the size
of Canada to the world economy. Doing away with all trade barriers
would boost the world economy by nearly $1.9 trillion, or the
equivalent of 2 Chinas. Of course, these are only estimates.
Reasonable people can quibble about the exact size of the gains from a
new round. But the basic message from study after study is clear: a
new round brings huge benefits.
are making progress on market access for LDCs because of EU
leadership, the US-Africa bill, and other initiatives. Twenty-nine
countries have made more access available, we must do more but can
best get final progress inside a wider negotiation.
agricultural subsidies in dollar terms are two-thirds of Africa's
total GDP. Abolition of these subsidies would return three times all
the Official Development Assistance put together to developing
countries. Kofi Annan wants $10 billion to fight Aids; that is just 12
days of subsidies in dollar terms.
development argument is compelling. Notwithstanding the advances over
the last 50 years, 1.2 billion people are still living on less than $1
a day. Another 1.6 billion are living on less than $2 a day. It is a
tragedy that while our planet is blessed with sufficient resources to
feed its 6 billion people, many are going hungry and living in
misery. Poverty in all its forms is the greatest threat to peace,
democracy, the environment and human rights. The poor fear
marginalization more than globalization.
Brittan produced a chart recently in the Financial Times. Over the
past fifty years, less-developed areas' life-expectancy has risen by
over 20 years, adult literacy from 40 per cent to 70 per cent. For
China, literacy is up by 34 percentage points, India 33, Sub-Saharan
Africa 39, and North Africa 41. Life expectancy for China is up by
over 27 years, India by over 21 years and Northern Africa by over 20
does this prove? Little, other than in general the past 50 years has
seen the condition of our species progress at a pace unparalleled in
I be politically incorrect? Just because the great economic powers
want something, that does not automatically make it wrong. The truth
is a stubborn thing. The EU, US and Japan account for over sixty per
cent of the world's imports. Some observers have suggested recession
for all three. If that is true, it will be the first time all three
have been in recession in twenty-five years. There is a slow down, how
slow we have yet to experience. That cuts jobs and revenue everywhere.
I am now reluctant to predict the economic future, because I have
accurately predicted five of the last two recessions.
more open world has its dangers, but a closed world divided into
tribal compartments has proved lethal in the past. The tribes of
Europe are a good example. Where the tribes appreciate and respect
each other's differences — culture, music, religion, food and
commerce — we enjoy a united Europe. Human rights and living
standards are high. A united Europe is a force for good. Where
tribalism flourishes human progress and human dignity are imperilled.
Compare the Baltic States and the state of the Balkans. Compare North
Korea and South Korea. Night and day, open or closed. Before the
Soviets moved in to the Baltic States, they had a living standard
comparable with Denmark and now they are bouncing back; pre-war
Czechoslovakia was comparable with France. Is France less French
because she is in the EU? No. Does trade prevent development? Ask
Korea, which had a lower living standard than many African States
forty-five years ago. Korea now has a living standard closer to
Portugal and look how Portugal has prospered since she opened up and
joined the EU.
know trade alone is not the answer, but it is part of the cocktail
necessary for progress. Good governance, debt relief, infrastructure
investment, education, sustainable development, health programmes, all
have a role to play.
welcome you all and what you have to offer. I look forward to solid
debate and ideas that Ambassadors and Governments and our officials
can pick up, so we can improve our performance and all do a better