December 2, 1999
MARGARET WARNER: Tonight we get some foreign perspective on the issues raised at the WTO meeting and in the streets of Seattle outside. Pascal Lamy is trade commissioner for the European Union; Abdul Razak Dawood is minister of commerce, production, and industries for Pakistan; and Luiz Felipe Lampreia is the foreign minister of Brazil. Welcome, gentlemen. Commissioner Lamy, I notice there have been demonstrations in Europe as well this week. Do you share President Clinton's sympathy for at least some of what the demonstrators outside are saying?
|Reaction to the demonstrations|
PASCAL LAMY, Trade Commissioner, European Union: The answer is yes. The U.S. and European Union, which are rich realizations, have problems in a number of areas with trade utilization. A number of these people are raising questions about environment, about core labor standards, about food safety, about consumer protections, which we have to take onboard. I agree with that.
MARGARET WARNER: And Minister Lampreia, how do you see it in the your part of the world?
LUIZ FELIPE LAMPREIA, Foreign Minister, Brazil: Well, our main concern, you know, is that although those causes are, of course, legitimate and very important-- the environmental, the labor standards causes are, of course, high priority for everybody-- our main concern is that they're not misused for protectionist purposes, you know, and that they end up becoming one more difficult issue and one more thorn in the flesh of developing countries in particular.
MARGARET WARNER: Is there in Brazil, though, a backlash at all against globalization on other issues, perhaps?
LUIZ FELIPE LAMPREIA: Oh, there is a big discussion about the whole thing and its effects. But as regards to the WTO in the country, this is a very clear, I think, awareness from all sides-- the opposition, the government, the public opinion in general-- that it is a very good thing for us, because it is the rule of law, and that protects weaker countries against the power of those who have much more trade and much more influence and can make their own rules.
MARGARET WARNER: Minister Dawood, how do the issues being raised in the streets of Seattle look to you?
ABDUL RAZAK DAWOOD, Minister of Commerce, Pakistan: Well, we also feel sympathetic to what they have raised, but on the issue of labor, we have a different perspective on this. Obviously for us, raising issues of labor makes us weary, but how can you attach labor, labor standards to trade? Labor is an area which is of concern because it's one area of competitive advantage, and if as a result of labor standards, our costs go up, then we do become in an uncompetitive position. So we feel it's... we don't want it attached to trade.
|The child labor agreement|
MARGARET WARNER: Now, you've heard... maybe you didn't hear the President today, but when he signed his this child labor agreement, which is not part of WTO, he used Pakistan as an example, and he said, you know, actually protecting children against having to work is good even in these... even in countries where children now work. And he used as an example, he said in Pakistan, there were 7,000 children working in the soccer ball factory. They were sent to school and their parents took the jobs, or 7,000 adults took the jobs. Does that kind of an argument not hold any credibility as far as you're concerned?
ABDUL RAZAK DAWOOD: It does to some extent, it doesn't to the others. We've been working very closely with the ILO, and we feel that going through this process and slowly, slowly...it's something that cannot be done very rapidly, because it has some social implications to it. We are very concerned about child labor. Obviously we're not... we would like to have it removed. But there are certain objective conditions on the ground which will take time. The ultimate solution is for the West to open up their markets so we can get more exports, more jobs, so the children can go to school.
MARGARET WARNER: Minister Lampreia, let me ask you about the worker rights. The President does seem to be... is saying that at least the consensus for and support for globalization and greater openness could collapse in the West, or be undermined in the West, if the WTO isn't more sensitive to labor issues or to environmental issues. Does that argument hold any sway with you?
LUIZ FELIPE LAMPREIA: Well, you know, I think that the environment is a different case, because on environment, I think there are specific reasons why there is an intersection between environmental aspects and trade matters, you see. So I think that it can very well be negotiated and be the subject of rule-making. You know, you can have, within the WTO, eventually some rules on the environment. But the labor thing, let me go back to what my Pakistani friend was just saying. Nobody's for child labor. Come on, who is for slave labor? Who wants to have prison work? I mean, nobody can condone that or accept that. But our fear is not that. Our fear is that because our workmen have lower salaries, they will be eventually punished for that, because they become a danger to the jobs of richer workers, you know? In the steel industry, for example, that's a very concrete case that is made. I don't believe that many labor leaders who are so fed up about core labor rights are so interested in the happiness and the well-being of the Brazilian worker. I think they have their own case in mind, you know, and they want to protect their own thing, and they will go to any lengths, using the labor questions, to create a protectionist setup if necessary. And that's the case of steel.
MARGARET WARNER: So in other words, you're saying you think if labor rights get on the table in any way, it's just... it's a Trojan horse, to ultimately...
LUIZ FELIPE LAMPREIA: It's a foot in the door, yes.
ABDUL RAZAK DAWOOD: It will ultimately be used as a weapon, and we feel that it will be a protective weapon that could be used and put us at disadvantage.
MARGARET WARNER: So Commissioner Lamy, how do you bridge this divide? As you pointed out right at the beginning, it's really between the rich, developed countries and the developing countries.
PASCAL LAMY: Yes, that's exactly it, and the EU position is a position where we try to bridge the U.S. position and the developing countries' position. On these labor standards, let me first make the point that we are addressing only core labor standards, and not labor standards.
MARGARET WARNER: Explain the difference.
PASCAL LAMY: The difference is the number of standards we're addressing is the five core conventions which the international organization have put forward, and which have been ratified, and which can have to do with child labor, with forced labor, and with the possibility of people to... geared to unions. This is what we're talking about. We're not talking about other labor standards. Second, the EU position is that linking trade and labor is not a matter of sanctions. We've always said, and I'm repeating here, that it's not a matter of sanctions.
MARGARET WARNER: Even though the President said yesterday... President Clinton, in a newspaper interview, he'd like that?
PASCAL LAMY: It may be that this is the U.S. position. This is not the EU position. And in this, we are acting as a bridge in order to have the U.S. understanding the concerns that it could turn into sanctions. We don't want that. Three, we addressed the concern that this sort of standard could eventually turn as a protectionist device. That's precisely why we need to have them under an internationally agreed multilateral framework, so that somebody can assess whether or not this is used for protectionist purposes. There will be, in 20, 30 years from now, an assessment of that, and if it is turned into protectionist purposes, we will not go along with that. I have to be extremely clear on that. But on the other side, we have to take on board the concern which President Clinton made, and which repeated, that if we don't address that, then globalization and trade laborization, which is good for the developing countries, will be impaired in our countries, which really will be a pity.
|Agriculture and the environment|
|MARGARET WARNER: Minister Dawood, let's turn to agriculture
and environmental issues, which actually have gotten mixed to some degree.
What is your position, for instance, on the dispute between the U.S. and
the Europeans-- in this case, a dispute within the developing countries--
over agricultural subsidies, which the Europeans still have -- and also
on the question of genetically modified food, which the Europeans don't
want to let in from the U.S. or from other countries?
ABDUL RAZAK DAWOOD: Well, we are obviously very concerned about the subsidies and agriculture issue. I myself faced an immediate problem after taking office on the issue of the cotton prices, only because of the subsidy that was given by the United States. We... I had to face our farmers and they were, oh, very upset as to why Pakistan could not give that type of subsidy. But the fact of the matter is that we don't have such deep pockets, and how could I support our farmers? It is a very major problem for us, and unless the European Union and America move gradually away from this... we appreciate their position that it's a... it has a certain cultural problem for them. However, there has to be a move in this direction. Slowly, the export subsidies have to be removed by the Europeans and the Americans.
MARGARET WARNER: Commissioner Lamy, address this whole area. I mean, in Europe the agricultural area is both, what, an environmental issue, a cultural issue, a health issue, a trade issue?
PASCAL LAMY: Well, in Europe, we have seven million farmers, who we believe have another function than just producing food. These people are useful for environment, they're important for family structure for our society, they're important about our landscape. We have to pay for that. Our taxpayers agree to pay for these extra functions, which our farmers-- for the numbers they have, the relatively small size of their farms-- do bring to our society. We're not Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, with very huge farms, extremely productive. The question is how can we account for this without impairing, without being unnecessarily harmful to export of developing countries? And in order to do that, and to keep the balance between these two things, we have reform now coming in agricultural policy, in the direction of making it less harmful to world markets, and keeping the sort of protection through subsidies which we give to our farmers. We want to keep these farms. If we apply the market rule, they will disappear, and we will have other problems, which, in our view, would be much more costly for our societies.
MARGARET WARNER: Finally, before we go, Minister Dawood, one thing the president did emphasize a lot yesterday was that the fears and suspicions that many people across the globe now have about the WTO, about globalization, could be minimized if at least the WTO would become more open-- its processes, its deliberations, its rule-making-- instead of doing everything in secret. Are you open to that, to making the WTO more open, more accountable, more public?
ABDUL RAZAK DAWOOD: Oh, yes, we certainly are. What we've seen today is the process is moving in that direction, and having it more open, more transparency, will certainly help the WTO, because we do believe that globalization...we do believe that market mechanism is good for us in the long run, and the more it becomes open, the more it becomes transparent, it's good for all of us.
MARGARET WARNER: And Commissioner Lamy, do you share that, that willingness?
PASCAL LAMY: Yes, of course. I think we have to find new institutional... new rules together, so that an institution like WTO is both transparent, democratically controlled, and efficient. It's an extremely difficult thing. We in the European Union have some know-how of how we can try and build supranational institutions under these conditions, and we're perfectly ready to bring our expertise into an important quest like this one.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Well, thank you both very much. And we did lose Minister Lampreia due to a satellite problem, but we thank him also. Thanks again.