Wait, Who's Got the Ax to Grind, Mr. President?
In a speech touting the virtues of global trade, Pres. Clinton last night tried to mollify environmentalists and other critics of the World Trade Organization. Laying out his agenda for the WTO meeting to begin in Seattle next month, Clinton said he wants to reduce barriers to U.S. exports while still emphasizing environmental protection and workers’ rights. “Every non-governmental organization with an environmental or labor ax to grind is going to be outside the meeting room in Seattle demonstrating against us, telling us what a terrible thing world trade is. Now, I think they’re dead wrong about that,” Clinton said, though he also acknowledged that some groups have legitimate concerns that deserve to be heard. He called for a U.S. review of the environmental consequences of trade deals and for the WTO to contemplate the environmental impacts of its actions. He also called for the elimination of subsidies that encourage overfishing. Enviros were not impressed.