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'World Trade Center Association Day' Observed By Trade Groups - 2002-06-12

Wednesday was the first annual "World Trade Center Association Day". Close to 100 countries are celebrating how trade has unified them in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attack in the U.S.

Guy Tozzoli was part of the team that planned, constructed and operated New York's World Trade Center that was targeted by terrorists September 11. During the building of the twin towers, he said, people from cities around the world began approaching him with questions about how they could start world trade centers in their cities and countries.

So, Mr. Tozzoli founded the World Trade Center Association in 1970 based on a simple premise, to help businesses trade internationally more efficiently. Mr. Tozzoli said, "I know New York, you know Taiwan. If I want help in Taiwan, I ask you. If you want help in New York, you ask me. So, I started with 16 world trade centers from 16 cities in 7 countries."

The WTCA is now the largest trading association in the world, comprising 297 world trade centers in 91 countries, servicing more than 750,000 businesses.

As part of the worldwide celebration, the World Trade Center in Sao Paolo, Brazil will wrap a giant white ribbon around its headquarters. Trade centers in Macau, China and Trieste, Italy will unveil official WTC postage stamps. World Trade Center Day was officially declared in the state of Mississippi, home of the newest world trade center in North America. Other events took place in cities across the globe, from Cairo to Belgrade to Hong Kong.

Mr. Tozzoli believes the celebration is an opportunity to take the message of his organization to a world that needs to hear it. "Trade is very important," he said. If we respect each other's cultures, and we do business together, than it's less likely that we'll wage war on one another. That's the basic principle underlying the whole thing: peace and stability through trade."

A three-day international seminar began Wednesday at WTCA headquarters, which is located in midtown Manhattan. The headquarters were originally on the 77th floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower.