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Fact Sheet on US Agenda for New Trade Round


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 1, 1999


December 1, 1999

This afternoon, President Clinton addresses World Trade Organization (WTO) trade ministers at a luncheon hosted by Charlene Barshefsky, U.S. Trade Representative, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle. The President will be joined by other members of his Cabinet and by WTO Director General Michael Moore at the luncheon. In his speech, the President will discuss his vision for a 21st century trading system -- one that is robust and responsive to rapid changes in technology, addresses the concerns of the poorest countries, and puts a human face on the global economy. Working with the other nations of the WTO, the President wants the Seattle Round to focus on expanding prosperity and improving the quality of life and work here at home and around the globe. This Round should ensure that the global trading system honors our values and meets our goals for the 21st Century.


1. BETTER INTEGRATING POOR COUNTRIES INTO THE GLOBAL TRADING SYSTEM. The initiative that the President is promoting, along with European Union, Japan and Canada, would provide enhanced market access for the poorest countries. It will also revitalize and expand the technical cooperation and capacity building programs so that the poorest countries can effectively participate in the WTO and enjoy the benefits of the trading system. But to fully integrate poor countries into the global trading system, we must also help them develop the capacity to meet WTO requirements. The WTO will work in concert with other international organizations to revitalize their technical cooperation efforts in concert with recipients of such assistance. The United States worked in partnership with Bangladesh, Lesotho, Nigeria, Senegal and Zambia on the technical cooperation element.

2. A NEW APPROACH TO HELP POOR COUNTRIES GAIN ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE MEDICINES. The President today announced that the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Department of Health and Human Services will develop a cooperative approach on health-related intellectual property matters consistent with our goal of helping poor countries gain access to affordable medicines. Through this approach, we will ensure the application of U.S. trade law related to intellectual property, such as Special 301, remains sufficiently flexible to respond to legitimate public health crises.


- LABOR: The United States proposes the creation of a WTO Working Group on Trade and Labor during the Seattle Round. In December 1996, WTO members renewed their commitment to the "observance of internationally recognized core labor standards." The U.S. Working Group proposal would create a mechanism within the WTO to meet this commitment by fostering dialogue and research on six labor issues that deal with the extent to which expanded trade promotes broad gains in living standards and economic development. In addition, the U.S. supports a strengthening of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The ILO has made considerable progress in recent years. In 1998, it issued a declaration establishing core labor standards as universal principles of human rights. And in 1999, the ILO passed a convention banning the worst forms of child labor. The U.S. proposal would build on these successes by granting the ILO observer status at the WTO, similar to that enjoyed by the World Bank, IMF and the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

- ENVIRONMENT: President Clinton has committed to ensure that "spirited economic competition among nations never becomes a race to the bottom in environmental protection." The United States will pursue an agenda in Seattle to: conduct a U.S. environmental review on the consequences of the Round; proposing that the WTO's Trade and Environment Committee help identify environmental implications as the Round proceeds; pursuing "win-win" opportunities that provide both more open markets and the promise of yielding environmental benefits, such as elimination of tariffs on environmental goods and elimination of fishery subsidies that contribute to over-fishing; insisting that the WTO continue to recognize the right of members to take measures to meet environmental standards higher than those required by international standards; and strengthening the cooperation between the WTO and international environmental organizations like the UN Environmental Program. In addition, the President recently signed an Executive Order to require environmental reviews of major trade agreements with significant forseeable environmental implications.

- WTO REFORM AND DEVELOPING COUNTRY INSTITUTION BUILDING: The United States will also pursue an agenda to make the WTO itself more open and accessible - reflecting core democratic values. Specifically, the U.S. has proposed opening the WTO's dispute resolution procedures to the public, allowing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to file amicus curiae briefs in disputes, and creating institutional structures to increase consultation with NGOs. In addition, the U.S. is proposing measures to help developing nations by providing technical assistance on implementing trade policy and strengthening institutions in developing countries responsible for trade, labor, environment and other policies that influence the gains to living standards from trade.

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