Mike Moore's speeches
I first want to
say how delighted I am to be here tonight. And I also want to congratulate the OECD and
the Canadian government for hosting this very important and timely event. Today we find
ourselves in an increasingly global economy, but it is an economy that presents two
contradictory faces new technologies, greater wealth, and rising living standards
for millions of people; and at the same time, new instabilities, new risks, new
uncertainties as we have seen so starkly during the current financial crisis.
In some ways the
Internet has come to symbolise this powerful yet uncertain world. For we are
not just talking about a new service or a new communications network. We are talking about
technologies that are shaping a new kind of global economy the closest thing yet to
a single, "borderless" world market.
development has many implications, but the most important is that it is greatly
accelerating the process of globalization - and making it even more irreversible than it
electronic marketplace is rapidly spreading the very factors of production that make
globalization possible technology and information. It is already transforming the
way ideas-based products move across borders from financial services, to data
processing, medical information, and entertainment. But something more fundamental is also
going on. The electronic market is changing the way economies function by making
technology and information more accessible than ever before. It is making itself felt in
the way skills or expertise can be sourced from around the world. In the way production
can be integrated, 24-hours-a-day, across times zones and borders. In the way information
on design, costs, or marketing can be shared everywhere - instantly. This widening circle
of technology can and I believe will - have a massive levelling effect in the world
economy: helping to bridge the economic divisions between countries and individuals, by
equalizing access to the most important resource of the 21st century
knowledge and ideas. This would be a real revolution.
electronic marketplace has, by definition, a global rather than a national or regional
dimension. The global market is becoming an internal market and vice versa.
This reality means that governments are being pushed to work together, plan together, and
pool their efforts as never before creating what Lou Gerstner of IBM has called
"global public policy". Four years ago, when I became Director-General of the
WTO, it was almost universally accepted that regionalism would be the new shape of world
trade. Today the reverse is true. In a digital world where Singapore is as close to
Toronto as Chicago the idea of regional preference and integration begins to lose
its logic. Regional arrangements still have an important role to play, but increasingly as
catalysts for the global system, not as alternatives. They are obliged to turn outwards,
The third -
and most important point is that the electronic marketplace is redefining our
notions of interdependence. Already a quarter of global output is exported up from
just seven per cent in 1950. For the developing countries, this share is even higher,
almost forty per cent. But it is no longer just goods and raw materials that cross
borders. Increasingly we share in a global market for each other's services,
entertainment, culture, media - even environmental, social and political concerns are
increasingly shared. There is a globalization of our hopes and fears. And this
interdependence of ideas and images is creating a far more immediate and intimate bond
among peoples than trade in goods ever did.
acceleration of globalization has huge potential to improve the lives of billions around
the world. But how to manage the forces it has unleashed? How to help peoples and
societies adjust? And how to ensure that its benefits are widely shared so we don't
see a widening gap between those who are part of the global economy and those being left
behind? In a certain sense, we find ourselves between two worlds - between an economic
system that is increasingly global, and institutions and structures which have not caught
up with this complex world. The challenge we face is to bring these worlds together - by
reshaping the global rules and policies needed to support our globalizing economy.
suggest three areas where we need to focus our attention: First, we clearly need to build
a global policy framework for the electronic marketplace. Free trade does not mean freedom
from rules. On the contrary, rules and institutions are central to making markets work -
and the electronic marketplace is no exception. Part of this framework is already in
place. For example, the Services Agreement of the WTO applies to much of electronic
commerce because digital trade is really trade in services through a new medium.
Likewise, the Intellectual Property provisions of the WTO address another major concern
the security of Internet transactions such as the selling or licensing of
information, or trade in cultural products like films and music. But there is clearly more
to do in these and other areas.
priority is to expand the physical infrastructure of the global electronic marketplace -
which means making computer and telecommunications networks available and compatible world
wide. The Internet revolution has not developed in a vacuum. It stands on the shoulders of
an equally profound revolution in global telecommunications. Here again the trading system
is playing an important part. In February last year, 69 countries representing 95 per cent
of the global market concluded a massive agreement to free telecommunications services -
opening many markets which had up till then been dominated by state-owned monopolies. Two
months later, 40 countries accounting for over 90 per cent of world trade in IT
products, agreed to the elimination of tariffs on computer and telecommunications products
by the start of the year 2000.
me to a third challenge - the need to widen the knowledge base of people, especially in
the developing world, so that everyone has the potential to be part of the information
economy, not just a fortunate few. The least-developed countries have ten per cent of the
world's population but do less than half of one per cent of world trade. This
marginalization is dangerous absolutely unacceptable and it risks worsening
if these countries are left behind by the next wave of globalization. Electronic trade,
which can abolish distances and frontiers, can also provide an escape route from
marginalization. But without investments in the human infrastructure skills,
training, know-how - no amount investment in physical infrastructure will help. With this
in mind, the WTO is helping to provide least-developed countries with computers equipment
and the know-how needed to access the great volume of trade information which is available
on the WTO website.
I am not
suggesting that everything we need is already in place. On the contrary, one of the
fundamental challenges that governments face is trying to keep pace with a technological
revolution that is literally changing with the speed of the Internet with the risk
that regulations or rules will be obsolete before they are even in place. In all of the
areas I have mentioned telecommunications, information technology and intellectual
property we must continue to work to keep up with this revolution.
At our second
Ministerial Conference in May this year, all WTO Members adopted a Declaration on Global
Electronic Commerce with two major results: We agreed not to impose customs duties on
electronic transmissions until Ministers reconsider the matter at the end of next year. We
agreed to launch a future programme of work on electronic commerce under which the
relevant bodies in the organization will examine and report back on any trade-related
issues arising from electronic commerce which Members wish to raise.
this work programme which will begin this month entail? First we will
confirm the rules on electronic commerce that already exist in the WTO to avoid
undermining existing rights and obligations by treating electronic commerce as if it were
outside the normal trade regime. Second, we will identify any weaknesses in the existing
legal structures that need to be strengthened or clarified. And third, we will see if
there are any areas not covered by WTO disciplines where Members agree that it might be
appropriate to move forward.
But what is
perhaps most significant about this very ambitious work programme is that it was agreed by
all 132 Member governments on the basis of consensus and all in a matter of weeks.
Why? Because with so much of our economies dependent on one another, no country any longer
has an interest in closing off markets or weakening its ties with the rest of the world.
And certainly no country, developing or developed, has an interest in building walls
against technology and investment flows from outside flows that will determine
whether it is equipped to participate in the new global economy, or is left behind. This
represents a sea-change in the global trading system and stands as a powerful
symbol of optimism for the future
We hear many
critics in this period of time of globalization and its role in the present
crisis. But globalization is not a policy - to be judged right or wrong. It is a process -
driven by the realities of economic and technological change. Two hundred years ago, steam
power launched the first industrial revolution. A hundred years later, mass production and
mass transport launched a second industrial revolution. Each led to a fundamental change
in the organization of production and in the role of governance. Now a revolution in
communications and informatics the digital revolution is reshaping the
global economic landscape in equally powerful ways.
The advent of
a borderless economy has enormous potential to generate growth, to spread the benefits of
modernization, and to weave a more stable and secure planet. But it also challenges the status
quo. It demands that we adapt. The real issue before us is not the debate about
globalization but to see how technological process can be better channelled to promote
more growth, more trade and greater modernization and so help the world economy to
remerge from its present difficulties. This is a complex challenge a challenge that
will require vision and patience. But let us begin to meet this challenge now, knowing
that with electronic commerce we have another, very powerful tool in our hands.