The Uruguay Round and Beyond
Edited by Ramesh Adhikari and Prema-chandra Athukorala
Chapter 2: Emerging issues in the world trading system
T.N. Srinivasan The third Ministerial Meeting of the WTO in Seattle in December 1999 ended in a spectacular collapse without a ministerial declaration, let alone a decision to start a new round of multilateral trade negotiations. Assorted groups consisting of anarchists, die-hard protectionists, well-intentioned but naive individuals genuinely concerned about the welfare of the poor and child workers in developing countries and others for whom the cause of the poor was a cloak for the pursuit of their own self-interests had all converged in Seattle to express their opposition to what they perceived to be the evil juggernaut of globalization. Undoubtedly the street demonstrations by these groups were disruptive, but they had little to do with the collapse of the ministerial meeting. Odell (2000) points out that the real reasons for the collapse were basically three: the inadequate preparation before the Seattle meeting; the inclusion of too many controversial issues in the negotiating agenda; and the poor management of the meeting, including, in particular, that by the leader of the most powerful delegation, Charlene Barshefsky of the United States, who also served as the meeting chair. In addition, the schedule allowed insufficient time to iron out substantial differences among the delegations. Yet some of the demonstrators mistakenly believe they had succeeded in preventing a successful ministerial meeting, and were thus encouraged to organize protests, albeit less violent than those in Seattle, in Bangkok, Washington, DC, and elsewhere whenever a high-level meeting of the IMF, the United Nations Conference on Trade...
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