Pascal Lamy — Europe’s Voice on Trade
What does one of the shrewdest minds of the EU Commission have to say about the state of trade?
January 25, 2002
Pascal Lamy, the European Trade Commissioner, is one of the shrewdest minds to work for the European Union in the last 20 years. In 1985, the French-born civil servant was named EU President Jacques Delors’ chief-of-staff. After nine years at the EU, Lamy became a banker. In 1999, he took on his present job as the EU’s point man on trade. The Globalist’s Read My Lips explores this ardent marathoner and sharp thinker’s stance on key global policy issues.
Given that trade is so complex, what really motivates you?
“Trade should be a weapon for peace.”
In what fundamental way do global trade relations improve the world?
“If you look at history, strong trading relationships have very seldom led to conflict.”
Has the global economy changed diplomacy?
“The challenge for policy makers is actually similar to the challenge of our ancestors. It’s just the level that has changed. It’s no longer the nation state — but the global level.”
In what way does the United States need to change?
“The United States has hard-wired into its mythology the notion that each successive generation will do better than its predecessor — and better than the Joneses next door. Those notions become environmentally, politically and perhaps emotionally undeliverable.”
What are your thoughts on the United States and trade?
“We are concerned lest the United States feels that it can — and should — try to resolve the problems through pressure on others, or worse still, through muscle.”
What is the relation between globalization and capitalism?
“Globalization essentially amplifies and reinforces the strengths, but also the contradictions, of market capitalism: its efficiency, its instability — and its inequality.”
Where did NGOs originate?
“NGOs are the children of globalization.”
Why are NGOs essential for globalization?
“NGOs have a legitimizing function — and they are pressing for increased legitimacy in the system. Over time, that is a crucial contribution to global governance.”
How have NGOs contributed to the globalization debate?
“NGOs have ensured that globalization is about much more than dry economics waged on a multinational scale.”
In what areas can others learn from the NGOs?
“It’s a quite natural thing that at least in our Judeo-Christian civilization there is a lot of guilt in our system to be tapped. NGOs are doing this in a way more effectively than parties, unions and churches.”
What did policy makers learn from the WTO Seattle fiasco?
“In Seattle, we all paid the price for insufficient preparation, lack of flexibility — and poor conference management.”
What is the value of the World Trade Organization?
“Globalization needs to be harnessed. You can’t do that without strong institutions like the World Trade Organization.”
How will other nations react to China’s entry into the WTO?
“WTO member countries will be watching very carefully — but they will also have to be very patient with China as a new member.”
How should WTO member respond to any trade violations on China’s side?
“Dragging China to the WTO dispute settlement procedure at every hint of a problem should be reserved to cases where other courses of action produce no results.”
“Entry into the WTO is like unlocking a number of doors — more than 130 doors, by the way.”
(May 2000, on the number of agreements China needed to conclude with current WTO members)
What paradox do anti-globalization protesters face?
“One of the great psychological paradoxes of the current globalization debate is that people only come out in force to stop something once they believe it to be unstoppable.”
What makes this debate so lively?
“One of the extraordinary things about the globalization debate is that it seems to be one of the few things that is able to keep pace with globalization itself.”
Finally, what needs to change in the current globalization debate?
“Although we like to stress the upside of globalization, we need to address the worldwide fears and anxieties that accompany it — particularly when the economic slowdown means added strain on employers, workers and families.”
January 25, 2002