World Trade Organization Symposium on Issues Confronting the World Trade System
WTO Headquarters, Geneva, 6-7 July 2001

Photos and RealAudio from Friday, 6 July - Opening Plenary
Other pages: July 6 PM: Work session #1 and Reception - July 7 AM: work session #2 - July 7 PM (Closing Plenary)

Chair Alimata Traore, Minister for Industry, Trade and Transport of Mali, opened the Symposium and welcomed participants. Recognizing trade as the motor of economic growth, she cautioned that developing countries and LDCs are at risk of being left at the sidelines. She said all stakeholders should be involved in the debate on the future of the world trading system, and underscored that NGOs can contribute to a more equitable and fair system.
Listen to Traore's opening remarks


Mike Moore, WTO Director-General, welcomed participants and said the Symposium should be made a permanent event. Welcoming more scrutiny of the WTO, especially through the debate on globalization, he called for greater engagement with civil society at the national level as well. He stressed the need to discuss the mandate of international organizations, noting that the WTO cannot be expected to cover everything.
Listen to Moore's statement


 View from the balcony of the main meeting room
during the opening Plenary.


Pascal Lamy, EU Commissioner for Trade, described the history of the relationship between the WTO and NGOs, noting that issues related to environmental regulation, labor standards and consumer protection are not new, and that NGOs should contribute to the debate.
Listen to Lamy's presentation

Dean Hirsch, President of World Vision International, described obstacles developing countries face in trade negotiations. Questioning whether freer trade promotes development, he pointed out studies indicating that in many cases, today's strongest economies initially developed through the use of policies that are now illegal under WTO rules.
Listen to Hirsch's presentation

Jamie Serra, President, Serra Associates and former Minister of Trade of Mexico, stressed exports as the most important engine of growth in emerging economies. He highlighted the relationship between trade and environmental and labor protection, arguing that as income sufficiently increases, so do environmental standards and as the volume of exports increases, so do labor standards and compliance. Therefore, trade sanctions would end up hurting rather than helping the environment and labor.
Listen to Serra's presentation

George Soros, Chairman of the Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Institute, noted that although the WTO is in many ways the most advanced and fully developed international institution, its detractors have valid criticisms. He observed that free trade and markets can only produce private wealth, and are not designed to serve other objectives such as human rights or environmental protection.
Listen to Soros' presentation
View from the stage


The dias, from left to right: Soros, Lamy, Moore, Traore, Alan Frank (Director of External Relations, WTO), Hirsch and Serra.

Go to: July 6 PM: Work session #1 and Reception - July 7 AM: work session #2 - July 7 PM (Closing Plenary)
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