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State Dept WorldNet Interview on WTO

Alan Larson, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs World Net Interview on WTOWashington, DC February 9, 2000

Since Seattle, WTO member governments have been reflecting on how to move forward on key international trade issues. As President Clinton emphasized at Davos, open markets and rules-based trade are the best engine we know to raise living standards, reduce environmental destruction, and build shared prosperity. The world trading system is essential to world economic growth, to sustainable development, and to a stable peace.

We remain optimistic that WTO Member countries can narrow the differences from Seattle and achieve consensus for a new Round. We welcome the February 7, 2000 decision of the WTO's General Council to launch the Agriculture and Services negotiation included in the WTO's built-in-agenda. We hope that all WTO members can build on this agreement to improve cooperation on a range of issues. In addition to the built-in-agenda, a number of significant items before the WTO demand our attention and support including e-commerce, the Integrated Framework, implementation of existing agreements, and improved transparency.

Trade is especially important for developing nations. From the 1970s to early 1990s, developing countries that chose growth through trade grew at least twice as fast as those with closed economies. The most open countries had growth that was six times as fast.

The United States is committed to ensuring that least developed nations benefit from the next Round. We are working with other developed countries to reach agreement on a common comprehensive market-opening package for least developed countries. We are also working to increase the amount and effectiveness of technical assistance and capacity building for poorer countries.

Many worry about the effects of globalization on the living standards, development prospects, and employment opportunities of working men and women around the world. The United States believes the WTO can make an important contribution to this discussion through a working group on trade and labor. This discussion could examine the consequences of expanded trade on employment, its development implications on raising standards of living across all income groups, and its effect on ensuring full employment and a steadily growing volume of real income.

The expansion of trade can help to improve living standards and opportunities for people around the world. And to make these benefits sustainable, we need to work together to ensure that the trading system is inclusive and gives everyone the chance to share in the gains from trade that a new Round will bring.

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