The Fear Factor
Work on this study began as an answer to the protesters at the December 1999 WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle, who challenged the current institutional model of an interdependent, globalized economy. The WTO skeptics are in principle concerned about the impact of globalized markets on their jobs and the state of the world, and they question the role of the WTO in a world of multidimensional issues and problems. Much of the fear is associated with the uncertainties of change, as markets expand, competition supplants existing companies and jobs, and the profit motive sparks a supposed race to the bottom in terms of environmental regulations and wage rates. Avoiding the economically destructive consequences of terrorism and of other sources of international conflict will require a firm and viable global trading system. Ultimately, clarifying the extent of WTO's power—what it can and cannot do—will help to put the larger issues and conflicts into perspective.
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