Cover Story: Inside the Hall of Mirrors

Talking turkey on trade

Nov 22, 2000 at 2:06 pm

"I'm hopeful that the harmonization of the globalization will prevent the proliferation of trade disputes," said European Commissioner for Trade Pascal Lamy of France. He actually said that. It doesn't even mean anything.

Meanwhile outside, as the kids were getting ready to stick it to The Man and the police were getting ready to stick it to the kids, protesters such as Gwen Marshall of the Ohio Fair Trade Commission and the Southwest Ohio Green Party were making their way to Sawyer Point. Standing outside the hotel, Marshall was asking police what the demonstrators were allowed to do before the police took action against them.

"What I look at the TABD for is a wonderful teaching moment," Marshall said. "It's a good organizing tool. The WTO (World Trade Organization) is the enforcement mechanism for GATT (the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs). Our concern is with non-tariff trade barriers. GATT would call those technical barriers to trade, and we call them human health and safety standards and environmental laws."

Doubtless, the black-clad protesters making their way across Fountain Square all could tell the difference between GATT — a serious barrier to transatlantic trade — and a Tofu burger.

As the opening plenary session of the sixth annual TABD conference drew to a close, co-chairman Bertrand Collomb, chairman and CEO of Lafarge Corp., stood slowly and made his way to the lectern. With the plenary session over, the delegates had a full day of workshops and street demonstrations to look forward to.

"Thank you to the city of Cincinnati for organizing some protesters," said Collomb, to tentative laughter. "We are very happy to see we are important enough for some protesting." ©

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