THE BIG PITCH: What should the WTO do to salvage its image in the wake of last week’s chaos?

ROSANNE MARKS - MWW/Savitt, Seattle.

ROSANNE MARKS - MWW/Savitt, Seattle.

ROSANNE MARKS - MWW/Savitt, Seattle.

A mismanaged WTO allowed the news coverage to focus on ’The Battle in

Seattle,’ rather than the substantive issues at stake in global


Now is the time for the WTO to leverage the lingering interest of media

to proactively address the real issues. The WTO must translate its

abstract ideas into impacts on the daily lives of people. For example,

showcasing the advances free trade has wrought in developing countries

and contrasting them with the limitations of trade barriers. Also, the

WTO needs to demonstrate that it achieved results last week and to focus

on how the agenda for free trade will affect people around the


LORI TUCKER - Tucker Associates, Dallas

Non-engagement empowers. The WTO can expect the same situation at every

conference unless it successfully engages its critics in a two-way


At this point, WTO general director Mike Moore should call upon

President Clinton or Vice President Gore to facilitate discussions

between the WTO and the protest groups. The trade organization might

possibly turn the disaster in Seattle into a positive by terming the

talks and outcome the ’Seattle Accord,’ resulting in new communication

policies. Opposition groups would be allowed to have observers monitor

future sessions and be given an official forum during meetings to air

their views. However, the WTO should collaborate to diffuse the issue,

not necessarily accommodate it.

PETE ROBINSON - Ketchum, Washington, DC

Now defined by its most vocal opposition, the formerly obscure WTO has

become an ominous secret world government with no semblance of

transparency or public participation. For the WTO, 2000 should serve as

a rebuilding year. WTO organizers should host a widely publicized spring

conference, bringing together world leaders and credible

non-governmental organizations from consumer, environmental, labor and

agricultural sectors, to initiate open forums. Simultaneously, the WTO

should begin crafting credible messages about its contribution to

economic prosperity, rather than depend on the parochial attitudes of

individual world leaders. These steps would start to position the WTO

for what is likely to be a long and gradual process.


There were two WTO meetings in Seattle last week - one inside the

convention rooms and one outside on the streets. The inside did not do a

good job of communicating any message to the outside. The linchpin of

the WTO’s PR strategy should be briefing the assembled media regularly

throughout its conferences - several times a day if necessary. The

messages that the world has been hearing came from delegates as they

walked down the street, engulfed by protesters. A consistent message of

positive progress toward strengthening trade around the world needs to

be developed. Instead, at the end of the week, organizers told an

international audience that there was no progress. What a waste!

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