December 15, 1999
Seattle, the home of Microsoft and Boeing, was supposed to be the
Gateway to the Global Economy. Shattered shop windows and tear gas
made it instead the gateway to Americans' knowledge about the World
Trade Organization (WTO).
The United States was put into the WTO by a Clinton-Dole-Gingrich
deal exactly five years ago in a lame-duck session in 1994, after the
landmark Republican victory on November 8 but before the new members
took office in January. Almost a third of those who voted for the WTO
had already been rejected by their constituents.
The WTO is a 14-page charter that was surreptitiously added,
without debate or publicity, to the 22,000-page revision of the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). WTO is not a trade agreement at
all but a stealth treaty inserted into GATT in order to evade the
constitutional requirement that treaties need a two-thirds "advice and
consent" majority in the Senate.
WTO's origin grew out of the Bretton Woods Conference at the end
of World War II, when a three-legged plan was proposed to control the
global economy. The World Bank, which makes loans to developing
nations, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which makes loans
for foreign reconstruction and development projects, were born in
December 1945 and have been bleeding the U.S. taxpayers ever since.
The third leg, then called the International Trade Organization
(ITO), was blocked by U.S. Senators who concluded that it would
diminish U.S. sovereignty and interfere with U.S. domestic laws. GATT,
which is simply a contractual relationship among sovereign nations,
then became the basic multilateral agreement on global trade and has
been negotiating rounds of tariff reductions ever since.
When the final Uruguay Round of GATT Multilateral Trade
Negotiations was signed in Morocco on April 15, 1994, the globalists
returned to their 1947 plan of creating an actual organization with the
power to control world trade. The WTO charter was then slipped into
the GATT document that Congress passed.
The WTO is a supra-national body in Geneva that sets, administers,
and enforces the rules of global trade. It includes a legislature,
called the Ministerial Conference, consisting of 135 nations each with
one vote; an executive branch consisting of a Director-General and an
unelected multinational bureaucracy with a secretariat, committees,
councils, dispute panels, and review bodies; and a supreme court of
trade called the Dispute Settlement Board that decides trade disputes
and whose rulings cannot be vetoed by any nation.
The WTO is based on the one-country-one-vote pattern. The United
States has only one vote out 135, the same vote as Somalia, Haiti, Cuba
or Rwanda. We have no veto.
Most of the 135 are dictatorships and not our friends. They look
upon international organizations as vehicles to finance their socialist
economies and ruling classes out of U.S. wealth and technology.
The WTO's procedures are dramatically different from those used in
prior years by GATT. GATT required a consensus decision to impose a
penalty recommended by a dispute panel, and the United States could
reject rulings that intruded on our interests.
Under the WTO, unilateral action is forbidden. The United States
must abide by the judgments of WTO's Dispute Settlement Board, which
deliberates and votes in secret.
WTO is a direct attack on our sovereignty because it can force us
to change our laws to comply with WTO rulings. Article XVI, paragraph
4, states: "Each Member shall ensure the conformity of its laws,
regulations, and administrative procedures with its obligations."
The WTO has the final say about whether U.S. laws meet WTO
requirements. The WTO can impose financial penalties and sanctions if
WTO decides that our laws don't fully obey its dictates.
The WTO is touted as the road to free trade and cutting tariffs.
But we don't need the WTO for that. Tariffs were dramatically reduced
under GATT, and besides, free trade is not a truthful label for trade
that is controlled by a bureaucracy in Geneva.
The multinational corporations like what WTO does and the way it
does it behind closed doors. WTO makes it safe for them to shift their
operations anywhere in the world, where there are no fair labor or
environmental regulations and 50 workers can be hired for the wage of
one American, and then enjoy duty-free access back into the United
You don't have to be against free trade to see that
relinquishing our right to control our own trade policies to a bunch of
foreign bureaucrats in Geneva, accountable to no one, is a prescription
for international mischief. No secret global organization should be
controlling U.S. trade, investment or technology, or making decisions
about our jobs, production, labor standards, environment, or security.
In the televised Republican presidential debate last week,
reporters didn't ask a single question about the WTO, the merits or
nonmerits of U.S. membership, the controversial admission of Communist
China, or demonstrators' demands that its secrecy be ended. The riot
kept some people sleepless in Seattle, but others seem to be just
closing their eyes to a vital American sovereignty issue.