Delegates Say WTO Talks Fail
Dec. 04, 1999
SEATTLE (AP) _ Disappointed delegates of the World Trade Organization reported Friday that they had failed to get agreement on an agenda for a new round of global trade negotiations but they said they would probably try again to bridge huge differences next year in Geneva.
``We had to suspend this meeting and that is a disappointment,'' Canadian Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew told reporters late Friday night.
U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, the chairman of the meetings, had called a session of all 135 countries for later in the evening to announce the next steps.
But officials from some countries said they understood that the WTO would try to restart the negotiations next year in Geneva, where the WTO is headquartered.
The announcement represented the latest in a string of failures for the WTO sessions, which the Clinton administration had hoped would launch a new round of global trade talks.
The meetings were disrupted on Tuesday and Wednesday with huge protests that turned violent, forcing Seattle police to use tear gas and declare a civil emergency.
Word circulated quickly among protesters, who were being kept away from the convention center by police and National Guard troops, called out to restore order on Wednesday.
The protesters, who had vowed all along to ``Shut down the WTO,'' which they saw as an embodiment of everything wrong with the global economy, reacted with cheers as news of the failure of the talks was spread by cell phones and bullhorns.
Outside the Westin Hotel, where President Clinton stayed when he visited Seattle to promote the WTO negotiations earlier in the week, a group of about 50 protesters cheered, high-fived each other and began dancing in the street.