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(First of three articles on the World Trade Organization after the Seattle ministerial conference last December)
In the wake of the collapse of the Seattle ministerial, there emerged an opinion that reform of the WTO is now the program that nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), governments and citizens must embrace. That collapse over a month ago is said to provide a unique window of opportunity for a reformist agenda.
Cited by some as a positive sign is United States Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky's comment, immediately after the collapse of the ministerial, that "the WTO has outgrown the processes appropriate to an earlier time. An increasing and necessary view, generally shared among the members, was that we needed a process which had a greater degree of internal transparency and inclusion to accommodate a larger and more diverse membership."
Also seen as an encouraging gesture is UK Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Stephen Byers's comment after the Seattle fiasco that the "WTO must be radically reformed."
These are, in our view, damage-control statements and provide little …