Trade protesters are ”fighting the wrong enemy”
Protesters outside world trade meetings are “fighting the wrong enemy,” the Vice-President of the International Chamber of Commerce has said in an address to the World Trade Center.
Richard D McCormick told the annual meeting of the Denver World Trade Center that increased trade is the key to reducing poverty and pollution, while boosting cultural diversity and the growth of small businesses.
Mr McCormick is slated to become ICC President for a two-year term in January. He serves on the boards of several major US corporations, including UAL Corp. (United Airlines), Wells Fargo and Company, and United Technologies. He is retired chairman and CEO of US WEST, Inc (now Quest).
He said his agenda as incoming President of ICC “was largely written for me, by some sincere but misguided ‘activists’ who put themselves on the map in Seattle.”
Protesters disrupted a meeting of the World Trade Organization in that city last autumn, and since then there have been anti-globalization demonstrations in London, Washington and most recently at the IMF-World Bank meeting in Prague.
“I’m afraid Seattle left a bad taste in the public’s mouth for what is actually an amazing, exciting, peaceful revolution,” Mr McCormick said.
“It’s a revolution that is raising standards of living throughout the world, bridging age-old gaps between religions and cultures without weakening them; and, in my view, it is the force ‘most likely to succeed’ in building world peace.”
Mr McCormick refuted 10 myths he said the protesters are perpetuating. Among them:
- that “globalization is concentrating market power in the hands of a few large corporations,” when actually the oil, auto and other industries have more competition today than in the past;
- that “information technology is an ‘evil tool,'” when actually it was the key to toppling the Berlin Wall – and is what keeps protesters in touch with one another and the public;
- that “globalizati on lowers labour standards,” when studies show that foreign companies pay more and behave better than local companies in many countries;
- that “globalization is destroying the environment,” when it is the industrialized democracies that have done the most to protect the environment.
Mr McCormick also cited studies that show prices for internationally-traded goods, such as cars, computers and stereos, have gone up considerably less than “local products and services.”
And, he noted, countries embracing trade have climbed from poverty to prosperity, although “the gap between rich and poor is an issue we must all be concerned about.”
The answer, he said, is more globalization, not less.
The ICC Vice-President said his fellow ICC Board members from around the world have “the same hopes and dreams for their grandchildren that I do.” And that globalization is “not the enemy, but the best hope, yet, of bringing us together for the good of all.”
The International Chamber of Commerce is the only business organization that includes companies of every size in its membership, represents all business sectors, and is present on every continent. ICC has members in 136 countries.