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President Clinton on Globalization and World Trade

Following are excerpts from President Clinton's January 29 address to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"I think we have got to reaffirm unambiguously that open markets and rules-based trade are the best engine we know of to lift living standards, reduce environmental destruction and build shared prosperity. This is true whether you're in Detroit, Davos, Dacca or Dakar. Worldwide, open markets do create jobs. They do raise incomes. They do spark innovation and spread new technology -- they do, coupled with the explosion of international communications through the Internet, which is the fastest-growing network in history. "

"Trade is especially important, of course, for developing nations. Listen to this -- this is something that I think people from the developing nations who oppose the WTO should think about: from the 1970s to the early '90s, developing countries that chose growth through trade grew at least twice as fast as those who chose not to open to the world. The most open countries had growth that was six times as fast.

"Look at South Korea, Mexico or Thailand, which built their growth on openness -- even after the recent traumas of financial crises, their national incomes are still more than double the 1970 levels, when they were more closed. And their gains in literacy, education and life expectancy are truly extraordinary, far outpacing countries that chose not to open to the world.

"Certainly, many of the people who have questioned the wisdom of open trade are genuinely concerned about the fate of the poor and the disadvantaged, and well they should be. But they should ask themselves, what will happen to a Bangladeshi textile worker or a migrant from the Mexican countryside without the prospect of jobs and industry that can sell to foreign, as well as domestic, consumers? What happens to farmers in Uruguay or Zimbabwe, in Australia, Europe, the United States, if protectionism makes it impossible to market products beyond their borders?

"How can working conditions be improved and poverty be reduced in developing countries if they are denied these and other opportunities to grow, the things that come with participation in the world economy? No, trade must not be a race to the bottom -- whether we're talking about child labor, basic working conditions or environmental protection. But turning away from trade would keep part of our global community forever on the bottom. That is not the right response."

"I think those who heard a wake-up call on the streets of Seattle got the right message. But those who say that we should freeze or disband the WTO are dead wrong ....

"There is no substitute for the confidence and credibility the WTO lends to the process of expanding trade based on rules. There's no substitute for the temporary relief WTO offers national economy, especially against unfair trade and abrupt surges in imports. And there is no substitute for WTO's authority in resolving disputes which commands the respect of all member nations. If we expect public support for the WTO ... we've got to get out of denial of what's happening now.

"If we expect the public to support the WTO the way I do ... we have to let the public see what we're doing. We have to make more documents available, faster, we have to open dispute panel hearings to the public, we have to allow organizations and individuals to panel their views in a formal way. And we all have to play by the rules and abide by the WTO decisions, whether we win or whether we lose.

"Let me be clear: I do not agree with those who say we should halt the work of the WTO, or postpone a new trade round. But I do not agree with those who view with contempt the new forces seeking to be heard in the global dialogue. Globalization is empowering people with information, everywhere. "

The full text of this address can be found at the Website: http:\\