NFTC Statement on the WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle

Thursday, 9 December 1999

In expressing concern over the WTO outcome, Kittredge pointed out that “the lack of agreement in Seattle allowed those who want to stop trade at all costs to claim victory. This is clearly not the case. However, we must be realistic about what the WTO and trade liberalization can achieve and focus on the win-win aspects that are so vital to the business, labor, environmental, and farming communities, as well as consumers. Moreover, developed countries should be responsive to developing country needs.”

Kittredge emphasized that “for over half a century, the WTO, and its predecessor the GATT, have been fundamental to raising living standardsworldwide, establishing basic rules of fairness in the conduct of trade, and preventing potentially catastrophic trade wars. It has lifted three billion people out of poverty, spread democratic values such as the rule of law, peaceable dispute settlement, and non-discrimination, and fostered global economic stability and prosperity. It has helped improve the environment and worker lives, and it fully protects the rights of nations to set stringent standards on human health and food safety. Trade and the institutions that support it have nothing to be defensive about.”

In closing, Kittredge stated that “it is incumbent upon the President, members of the U.S. Congress, business, farmers and consumers to explain more effectively the benefits of trade, especially the growth and opportunity that is fueled by trade expansion and multilateral rules-based trade. The inaccurate portrayals and misinformation that have been spread about the WTO must be put to rest.”

The NFTC called on world leaders to explain that there is a “human face” of trade which consists of the millions of citizens who benefit from trade, the democratic values trade ultimately spreads worldwide, plus the improvements trade promotes in workers lives and the environment. It also encompasses the thousands of small and medium-sized businesses that wouldn’t exist without trade, and the many other ways in which trade improves lives and creates growth and opportunity.

The National Foreign Trade Council was founded in 1914. From that date to the present, NFTC has been a leading spokesman on behalf of the private sector for an open international trade and investment regime. NFTC’s membership consists of 580 U.S. manufacturing corporations, financial institutions and other U.S. firms having substantial international operations or interests.