Global Wealth Disparity Will Increase without Freer Market Access

Article excerpt

The gaping disparity in global wealth will increase unless the poorer countries of the world are provided with better access to the markets of the prosperous nations, and with better assistance. Canada also seeks a resolution to the subsidies war in agriculture; coherent approaches to labour and environmental aspects of trade, wider participation and greater transparency in development of trade rules. Prepared text for a speech delivered at the World Trade Organization, Ministerial Meeting, Seattle, November 30, 1999.

I am honoured to be here in Seattle to represent Canada as we strive to launch a new round of global trade negotiations.

As we are all aware, there is activity both inside and outside this building.

In our many plenary sessions and more informal meetings, we often deal with complicated questions of process, but all based on a simple question -- how? How do we come together to launch this new round? How do we find the spirit of compromise that will allow us to reap the rewards of so many years of hard work and principled rule making?

But outside, in communities around the globe, some citizens are asking another question -- why? Whether for or against free trade, they are asking: why is the WTO essential? Why do we need to further liberalize global trade? Why not simply appreciate the gains we have made, and slow this process down?

The answer to both questions lies in the future, in what kind of world we want to continue to build.

The World War II generation surveyed the planet's problems and decided to build strong, democratic institutions that have guided our social and economic evolution in profound ways. The GATT [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade] and the WTO are part of that legacy, part of that knitting together of the globe that has made us prosperous and served the cause of peace.

I believe that we are now poised at a juncture in our history that, while very different, is no less important.

Profound change, driven largely by technology, is sweeping across our societies. Most of us call this globalization.

Many of us are excited by it, because it promises enormous opportunities and openings in the economic, social and intellectual realms. The world is coming together as never before.

But just as in earlier periods of great change, such as the Industrial Revolution, some citizens are being excluded. Many of us now realize that while market economies are efficient, market societies leave much to be desired.

So it's important not to get lost in our ideology or to become too rigid in our thinking. Canadians know much about the importance of cultural diversity and pragmatism. …