The Role of the World Trade Organization in Global Governance

By Gary P. Sampson | Go to book overview

6
Public participation in
the World Trade Organization

Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, USA
Frank Loy

We must build a trading system for the 21st century that honours our values as it expands opportunity. 1 … We must do more to ensure that spirited economic competition among nations never becomes a race to the bottom. We should be leveling environmental protections up, not down … Sustainable development is a stated objective and mission of the WTO. Achieving this goal will require greater inclusiveness and transparency in WTO proceedings to win the confidence of people around the world. 2

(President William Jefferson Clinton)


Introduction

For the past 50 years, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its predecessor organization, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), have been—in common parlance—on a roll. The volume of trade governed by WTO rules during that period has grown 13-fold, reaching annual levels of US$5.3 trillion in merchandise and US$1.3 trillion in services in 1998. Tariff levels that in 1947 averaged 40–50 per cent of the value of goods, today average 4 per cent. Membership in the organization now boasts 139 countries, with 30 more aspiring to join. 3

-113-

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