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Clinton to Defend Globalization at Davos
January 28, 2000
By Randall Mikkelsen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Clinton left on Friday evening to attend
the high-powered World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he will
make the case for further global integration despite a grass-roots backlash
Clinton is expected to tell the gathering of business titans, international
political leaders and academic stars in a speech on Saturday that his
commitment to increased trade is unwavering but that environmental and
labor concerns must be addressed as economic integration proceeds.
'He is a true believer in trade, and he is committed to opening markets,'
White House spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said.
But she said that 'for the long term, you really need to lift all boats,'
meaning that the benefits of globalization reach all members of society.
Clinton is also scheduled to meet Palestinian President Yasser Arafat
before an intensive 10-day round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks begins
Clinton will be the first serving U.S. president to attend the meeting in
Davos, a posh ski resort.
But the format of an elite gathering to discuss weighty issues is a
familiar and comfortable one for the gregarious American.
Clinton traditionally spends his New Year holiday with a similar, mostly
American crowd, swapping ideas at the Renaissance Weekend get-together in
South Carolina. This year he skipped the event to preside over New Year
celebrations in Washington.
Clinton left for Davos the day after his State of the Union speech, in
which he triumphantly declared that an America close to having its longest
period ever of economic growth was 'the strongest it's ever been.'
CONFEREES FOCUS ON EURO
Europeans at the conference may be in a more somber mood. Headlines from
Davos on Friday were dominated by concern over the euro currency's slide
against the dollar.
The movement for global economic integration, a central theme of the annual
Davos gathering, faltered when angry popular demonstrations blocked a new
round of trade talks at the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in
The backlash against globalization has drawn on worries that workers are
being exploited and the environment damaged because of business competition.
In his State of the Union speech, Clinton said there would be 'no turning
back' from globalization, calling it 'the central reality of our time.'
He called for a 'new consensus on trade' in which benefits are used to
raise living standards and combat poverty and environmental destruction.
A U.S. official said Clinton's message at Davos would be directed toward
developing countries in particular. Many developing countries have resisted
including environmental and labor standards in trade agreements out of fear
their competitive advantage will be weakened.
Leaders at Davos have restated their support for economic integration.
Mexico and Britain both called on Friday for a new global round of
But WTO Director-General Mike Moore said that key governments he has been
speaking with over the last three weeks have sounded a cautious note on any
efforts to get talks back on track.
Clinton is scheduled to give a private reception for world and corporate
leaders, including representatives of Yahoo! Inc , Ford Motor Co, and
PepsiCo Inc, Palmieri said.
He will also meet Swiss President Adolf Ogi.
Portions copyright © 2000 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved.
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