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
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.