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Mexico to Host Next Global Trade Meeting - 2001-12-21

Mexico will host the next global trade meeting in 2003, the World Trade Organization announced Thursday.

Although no specific time or location in Mexico has been set at this point, WTO director Mike Moore said the country is a good choice to host the meeting of an organization that is devoted to reducing tariffs and other restrictions on global trade "Mexico is a country that's done very well out of trade liberalization," he said. "The average wage paid by foreign investors in Mexico is 50 percent more than local employers. Their trade has exploded! Of course, they live in an interesting neighborhood."

Looking back on this year, the WTO director described it as perhaps the most significant in the organization's history. He said the success of last month's ministerial meeting in Doha has removed the stain of the 1999 WTO meeting in Seattle, which was disrupted by protesters.

Critics accuse the trade organization of favoring big business over the interests of the poor. But Mr. Moore argued that, at Doha, the WTO agreed on an agenda that reflected the interests of all the members of the organization, developed as well as developing countries. "We can claim now with some confidence that we have given birth to the WTO. It's not the old GATT with a few symbolic gestures to the poorer of our members," he said. "But what we have done with our budget and in our planning is creating a WTO that better reflects the needs of our wider membership based on the instructions from our owners - the ministers."

In his remarks, Mr. Moore also paid tribute to China, which this year became a full member of the WTO.

Looking toward the future, Mr. Moore said one of his top goals is to get the Arab world more involved in the trade liberalization process.