Pro-traders pick up post-WTO pieces with PR push

WASHINGTON, DC: Business organizations interested in promoting trade have begun to wade through the post-WTO rubble of their PR strategies, and have already restarted their quest to promote slackening of trade restrictions.

WASHINGTON, DC: Business organizations interested in promoting trade have begun to wade through the post-WTO rubble of their PR strategies, and have already restarted their quest to promote slackening of trade restrictions.

WASHINGTON, DC: Business organizations interested in promoting

trade have begun to wade through the post-WTO rubble of their PR

strategies, and have already restarted their quest to promote slackening

of trade restrictions.



Leaders of several pro-trade organizations said they were not surprised

by the events at last month’s WTO meeting in Seattle, but stressed the

need to move forward - especially since several hot-button trade issues

are set to come before Congress next year.



Procter & Gamble director of government relations Scott Miller said that

the anti-WTO message trumpeted in Seattle was not new, but that the

broadness of the protesters’ coalition was. ’It ranged from the Buchanan

right to the Nader left,’ he said. ’They were able to speak with a

single voice, but it is obviously easier to mobilize around ’no.’’



Miller chairs the US Alliance for Trade Expansion, an umbrella coalition

of pro-trade organizations. Based on what he saw in Seattle, he said

that his group must reorient its message towards ’demystifying’ the

trade negotiating process, as well as reaching out to organizations that

are not supportive of what he calls ’rules-based trade.’



Miller was surprised by the presence of faith-based organizations in

Seattle (nearly all aligned with protesters) and thinks more must be

done to convince religious leaders that they will benefit if trade

restrictions are loosened.



The Business Roundtable, another pro-trade group, claims to have

recognized well in advance that protesters would have a strong presence

at the Seattle meeting.



A week before the meeting, the organization announced its intention to

hold press events in over 70 congressional districts to release studies

of how trade benefits local economies. Several prominent politicians,

including Sen. Phil Gramm and US Rep. David Price, participated in the

local events. Timed to coincide with the start of the WTO meeting, the

events resulted in a steady flow of local newspaper stories which

distinguished between the Seattle protests and the potential local

benefits of open trade.



’Most people relate to what impacts their city or state, rather than the

global issue,’ said Business Roundtable director of communications

Johanna Schneider.



The key votes involving trade that are expected to come before Congress

next year include a vote on renewal of US membership in the WTO and

extending ’normal trade relations’ (formerly ’most favored nation’)

status to China.



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