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Leadership requires vision. To be effective this vision must be combined with the courage and confidence to promote policies despite being unpopular among some segments of society. The record of the Group of Seven/Eight (G7/8) in promoting trade illustrates the achievements that may result from consistent and cooperative leadership. However, with civil society increasingly questioning the merits of multilateral trade liberalization, it is imperative that the G8 show more effective leadership.
The G7/8 has to date provided adequate leadership in the area of multilateral trade through consistently supporting the institutions and activities which encourage liberalization. This paper argues that in order to stimulate further liberalization in the post-Seattle WTO led multilateral trading system, the G8 must increase their credibility and courage in communicating with their citizens. One way in which this could be achieved is by having the G8 enter into a structured dialogue with both non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and business/non-profit and for-profit groups. Such dialogue must be carried out in a transparent manner allowing for an open and mutually beneficial exchange of information and opinions.
The G8 summit provides the ideal opportunity for the leaders of eight major industrialized countries, together with the participation of the European Union (EU), to speak with representatives of society in order to shape the trade policies which affect them all. The summit provides a unique opportunity for trade to be discussed in an expanded context including economic, political and social factors. As has been the experience of G7/8 heads of state or government over the past 25 years, perspectives, when viewed from a summit, broaden.
While acknowledging the concerns of these actors, there is also a pressing need for the G8 to serve as a firm advocate of the benefits deriving from an open trading system. The G8 must take the political risk to speak with a strong and united voice in supporting the next round of multilateral trade negotiations if their leadership is to be effective rather than merely adequate. If they are to exercise leadership, the G8 must have the courage to promote their vision of the future.
This paper explores the role of the G8 in stimulating trade liberalization in the post-Seattle environment. The first section provides a brief background of G7/8 activities in the multilateral trading system, with particular emphasis on multilateral trade negotiations. Included in this discussion is the evolution of the Quadrilateral Ministerials made up of the trade ministers from the US, the EU, Japan and Canada. Section two describes the events leading up to the Seattle Ministerial, the sources of stalemate in Seattle and what the WTO has done in the aftermath. Section three addresses the newly active civil society participants and the potential for G8 involvement. The paper concludes by offering a series of recommendations on how the G8 can stimulate the post-Seattle multilateral trading system.
Summits and Ministerials
Since the first Western Economic Summit took place in Rambouillet, France in 1975, the leaders have voiced their support for an open trading system. In words that still hold true 25 years after they were first written in the 1975 Rambouillet Declaration, the G7 stated:
We must seek to restore growth in the volume of world trade. Growth and price stability will be fostered by maintenance of an open trading system. In a period where pressures are developing for a return to protectionism, it is essential ... to avoid resorting to measures by which they could try to solve their problems at the expense of others, with damaging consequences in the economic, social, and political fields (Rambouillet Declaration. Pt. 8. 1975).
The G7/8 have consistently supported the role of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and since 1995 its successor, the World Trade Organization (WTO), in monitoring trade agreements, ensuring the openness of the trading system and as a forum for negotiations.
With respect to multilateral trade negotiations, summits serve to call for new rounds, shape the agenda, break impasses through increasing pressure on individual member governments to offer concessions, and serve as useful deadlines for negotiators. Their impact on multilateral negotiations has been the source of special negotiating terminology including the ‘Rambouillet effect' which describes the G7/8's ability to bring about incremental progress during negotiations by having the leaders make the critical political decisions (Bayne; 2000: 21).
However, this effect has not been visible at every summit. The G7/8 have received much criticism due to their lack of positive impact on the negotiations. This is particularly due to the apparent inability or unwillingness of the leaders to fully implement their communiqué pledges once they have returned home. Communiqués called for the completion of the Tokyo Round every year from 1975 through 1978 as well as urging progress in the Uruguay Round from 1990 through 1993. Given that both rounds were stalled due to bilateral issues between Europe and the US, the G8 should not be faulted for their lack of success but rather commended for their continued determination in bringing about an eventual agreement. In fact, Bayne has observed that:
The summits do not achieve results by flashes of prescient, inspirational decision-making, sparked by the personal chemistry between leaders. There are a few examples of this, but they are very rare. Nor do they often achieve, at the first attempt, a definitive settlement of issues which can then be handed on to other institutions. Nearly always their achievement comes from dogged persistence, a sort of "worrying away" at the issues until they have reached a solution (1999: 25).
Effective summits for the promotion of trade liberalization, specifically the support of multilateral trade negotiations, have been characterized primarily by: 1) an agreed agenda prior to the start of the summit. This often requires the issue having been discussed at a previous summit or at the earlier OECD Ministerial or Quad Ministerial. 2) existence of a viable negotiating framework; 3) personal commitment of the leaders; and 4) public political pressure.
Varying Effectiveness of Summits
The following section reviews the factors which may create both effective and ineffective summits. Examples are drawn from the G7 summits which dealt with the Uruguay Round as well as the G8 summits which have discussed the planned Millennium Round. The summits covered are:
1985 Bonn – Members divided on new round (-)
1986 Tokyo - Political impetus for new round (+)
1990 Houston - Political re-commitment (+)
1993 Tokyo - Market access breakthrough due to political pressure (+)
1998 Birmingham – Focus on anniversary of GATT, not on new round (-)
1999 Cologne – Members divided on new round (-)
Since the 1980s, G7 summits have been used as platforms by individual leaders in calling for new multilateral trade talks. At the 1985 Bonn Summit, US President Reagan issued a strong call for an early start to a new trade round. However, the leaders were divided, with France refusing to accept a start date of early 1986. Thus, the communiqué read AMost of us think (that the starting date of a new round) should be in 1986". The US, especially Congress, felt rebuffed and initiated protectionist legislation such as the $2 billion Export Enhancement Program. However, it has been noted that this summit was exceptional for its lack of cohesiveness and that the Bonn Summit is one of only two Western Economic Summits which Putnam and Bayne view to have exacerbated international tensions.1
In contrast to the weak and divisive position G7 leaders took in Bonn, the 1986 Tokyo Summit gave political impetus to the UR through issuing a strong and cohesive statement in support of a new round. In fact, the leaders even suggested which issues should be included in the negotiations by stating: AThe new round should, inter alia, address the issues of trade in services and trade related aspects of intellectual property rights and foreign direct investment" (Tokyo Economic Declaration. Pt. 12. 1986). Additionally, there was a separate paragraph dedicated to the contentious issue of agriculture. The Tokyo summit was effective in that the leaders agreed on a common and detailed statement regarding the Uruguay Round. They also provided the political pressure necessary for certain GATT members to agree to a start date.
As the host of the 1990 Houston G7 Summit, the US was eager to make progress on the Uruguay Round negotiations, especially the difficult agricultural discussions. In fact, so critical was the successful outcome of the agricultural negotiations to the heads of state and the representatives of the EC, that the topic dominated proceedings ahead of aid to the Soviet Union; the issue of CAP reform forced itself above the end-game to the Cold War (Kay; 1998: 64).
Thus the Bush Administration welcomed the conveniently released GATT document known as the De Zeeuw text as a basis for further discussion on agriculture. Also, for the first time since the establishment of the G7, their Agricultural Ministers also met as a group in Houston (Kirton in Hodges, et al. 1999: 52).
The final communiqué sent a clear and firm message to the negotiators that the political leaders had placed the conclusion of the Uruguay Round at the top of their agenda. They pledged to take the difficult political decisions as well as to maintain a high level of personal involvement (G7 Communiqué: 11 July 1990: Pts 19 and 23). The De Zeeuw compromise text was agreed by all Summit participants as the means to intensify the negotiations (G7 Communiqué: 11 July 1990: Pt. 23). However, less than one week later, the EC's General Council declared that the De Zeeuw Report was only one way to intensify the agricultural negotiations (Agence Europe; 18 July 1990: 6). The EC retreat was due to the Council feeling the Commission had gone past its mandate.
The immediate impact of Houston on agriculture was minimal due to the EC's back-peddling. However, the long-term impact was more significant as it provided many summit innovations. It was the first time that the leaders had provided negotiators with detailed advice on moving the trade negotiations forward. A critical element which qualifies the Houston Summit as being effective regarding trade was that for the first time the leaders pledged to become personally involved in the negotiations. This has proven to be critical to G7/8 leaders having a positive impact on negotiations both at and between summits.
The expiration of US fast-track authority on 15 December 1993 provided a critical deadline for the Uruguay Round. Therefore, immense political pressure was placed not only on the host country of the 1993 Tokyo Summit but also the members of the Quad. It was reported that in the run up to the Tokyo Summit, the Quad members "zig-zagged across the world – from Toronto to Paris to Tokyo, back to Toronto and to Tokyo… in an attempt to hammer out agreement" (The Independent, 8 July 1993).
After marathon talks and a surprise concession from Japan on certain whiskey and brandy, a significant breakthrough was achieved on 7 July in the form of a substantial market access package. The next day the G7 were able to announce the deal at their summit. A press report stated:
In what could well end up as the biggest surprise and most important accomplishment of the G7 summit meeting, trade representatives of the world's major economies appear to have succeeded in what some had thought impossible. On (7 July) they gave a new lease on life to moribund world trade negotiations and a boost to the idea of free trade at a time when the concept is under attack by word and deed (International Herald Tribune; 8 July 1993).
Following the summit, the Quad's agreement was discussed in Geneva among the GATT contracting parties. At the same time, the US and EC held several months of intense bilateral negotiations, primarily over agriculture but also financial and audiovisual services. On 6 December 1993, the US and EC announced that they had reached an agreement on agriculture. Japan also agreed to allow foreign rice to be imported. On 14 December Peter Sutherland, the Director General of the GATT announced that "the gavel has fallen on most of the Uruguay Round agreement" (FT; 14 December 1993). The Quad/G7 initiative had clearly paved the way for the successful conclusion to the Uruguay Round.
The summits leading up to the planned launch of the Millennium Round have shown surprising lack of leadership among the G7/8, particularly the US and EU. Their failure to effectively address contentious issues such as trade and the environment and trade and labor contributed to the difficult and frustrating discussions among WTO ambassadors in Geneva in the last few months before the Seattle WTO Ministerial.
The 1998 Birmingham Summit took place one week prior to the 1998 WTO Ministerial held in Geneva marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the GATT. Thus, the Birmingham Communique focused on a general reaffirmation of the merits of continued liberalization. As they had done in Lyon in 1996 and in Denver in 1997, the leaders again called for greater participation by developing countries within the multilateral trading system. However, no new initiative was proposed. Notably, the G8 did not address the need for new trade negotiations.
At Cologne, the G8 leaders failed to reach a consensus on the issue of the planned Millennium Round. This was a significant failure as it gave their trade ministers no shared political direction in the critical period before the Seattle Ministerial. The main points discussed were: 1) pursuing an ambitious new trade round; 2) involving developing countries more widely in the negotiations; 3) increasing the input of civil society; 4) incorporating environmental and labor concerns into future trade negotiations; and 5) biotechnology. However, the US and the EU/European Commission2 failed to come to an agreement on various elements of the proposed Round. While the EU insisted on having an ambitious comprehensive round, the US favored a more limited agenda. There was also disagreement on the extent that trade-related environmental and labor issues should be discussed.
In the end, the Cologne Communiqué pleased no one fully by weakly calling for a new round of broad-based and ambitious negotiations with the aim of achieving substantial and manageable results. More critically, compared to the 1996 Lyon Summit which offered considerable detail for the upcoming Singapore WTO Ministerial, in Cologne the leaders offered little in the way of specific suggestions for Seattle.
The ineffectiveness of the Birmingham and Cologne summits in dealing with trade is due to several of the factors listed above: 1) in the case of Cologne, the leaders had failed to agree on the issue of trade prior to the start of the summit; 2) both Birmingham and Cologne witnessed a clear lack of personal commitment by the leaders; and 3) the leaders did not place trade high enough on their agenda therefore limiting the public political pressure.
At the 1981 Ottawa Summit, the G7 endorsed the establishment of the Trade Ministers Quadrilateral. Known as the Quad, this forum allows the trade ministers of the US, EU, Canada and Japan to discuss trade-related issues.3 According to Bayne, the Quad serves as a pressure group within the WTO and thus its "summits origins are forgotten (1999: 37).
This group played a key role during the Uruguay Round. Notably, Winham (1986) points out that the Quad played an important role in all stages of the Uruguay Round negotiations, (Winham: 205ff). However, Wolfe notes that the Quad played a particularly critical role in the final six to eight months of the round (1998: 89).
In 1999, the Quad continued to define the G8's position on trade. At their May meeting immediately prior to the Cologne Summit, the Quad urged the proposed Millennium Round to be broad-based and ambitious; cover areas such as services, agriculture, non-agricultural tariffs and non-tariff barriers, investment, electronic commerce and work toward strengthened capacity-building for developing countries. Additionally, they encouraged the WTO to contribute to sustainable development while considering the concerns of civil society.
However, with their political masters unable to give them clear direction in the run up to the Seattle Ministerial, the members of the Quad remained at odds with one another over the scope of the proposed round's agenda. The disagreement and lack of leadership among the members of the Quad will be elaborated upon in the following section.
Notably, as the number of active members within the multilateral trading system increases, the ability of the Quad to determine the trade policy agenda on their own is declining. A senior WTO official commented:
Agreement among the Quad is very important, but they are not the critical element that they used to be. Their exclusive position is over. They must now build a consensus (since there are many other participants). The Quad must be pragmatic, realistic and flexible in their position.4
However, the members of the Quad still retain a unique ability to present trade packages and formulate acceptable proposals. This is due not only to their combined trading strength but also because one of the members is likely to be the largest trading partner to all of the other individual members of the WTO (Wolfe; 1998: 89).
Ingredients of the Impasse
The debacle in Seattlei5 was caused by many factors. Individually, each was a cause of concern. Together they were the cause of a catastrophe. However, to the observer of the pre-Seattle activity of the G8, the Quad and the members of the WTO, the events which transpired in Seattle came as no surprise. They were the ingredients of an impasse.
Lack of political encouragement/leadership
As has been discussed, recent G8 summits did not provide the necessary political encouragement for the Seattle Ministerial. Compared to the strong statement issued in Tokyo in 1986, Cologne was disappointing for its lack of effective leadership. Commenting on the failure of the G8 summits to adequately address trade, Bayne notes:
The summit has paid a heavy price for their neglect of the trade dossier…The trade system, which had looked so strong up until then, enters the millennium in confusion and disorder, after the WTO Ministerial at Seattle failed spectacularly to launch a new round of trade negotiations. Many factors combined to cause this failure. But the G7 summit cannot escape its share of the responsibility (Bayne; 2000b: 28).
The failure of the G8 to show leadership negatively affected the ability of the Quad to show a united front in the months preceding the Seattle Ministerial. Andrew Stoler, Deputy Director of the WTO, contributed the lack of progress in agreeing to the draft ministerial text to the lack of political guidance and the resulting disagreement among Quad members:
There was an important lack of political will from the Quad. This absence caused shrill voices to take center stage. The EU, allied with Japan, and the US discord hindered progress.6
Lack of information
In addition to showing a lack of effective leadership or the requisite political will, the members of the G8 together with other WTO members, failed to adequately inform their citizens of the issues, objectives, and institutional procedures that were involved in the agenda-setting stage of the planned Millennium Round. This was primarily due to traditional trade policy processes characterized by limited transparency. Until the recent past, trade issues had been of little apparent concern to civil society. However, as the GATT/WTO has expanded the scope of its responsibility beyond trade in goods to include such trade-related elements as services, intellectual property, environment and labor, civil society has accordingly demanded more information.
The failure of the G8 to both address contentious trade-related issues or to promote their vision of the multilateral trading system at summit level caused discord among the Quad. This had far-reaching implications. At the same time, the WTO secretariat was slow to make its activity transparent. These factors, in addition to the overwhelming tendency of WTO member governments to not adequately inform their citizens of the issues at stake, address their concerns, or include them in the process of defining their national positions, encouraged the formation of reactionary groups. These groups acted on little, or worse, incorrect information.
Lack of effective communication
Closely linked to the lack of information from the leaders, lack of effective communication by WTO officials and trade ministers at the Seattle Ministerial occurred at both the unofficial and official levels. With trade having increasingly been placed in the public domain within the space of a few years, a large turn-out of demonstrators opposed to the WTO and the proposed Millennium Round was expected to be present at the Seattle Ministerial.
However, the actual numbers of demonstrators, estimated to have been between 30,000 and 50,000, which marched through the streets of Seattle surprised many. The violent scenes that were portrayed by the media gave the impression that these demonstrators were the cause of the failure of the Seattle Ministerial. Indeed, certain civil society groups were quick to take the credit. However, WTO Director General Mike Moore recently stated that that the NGOs who claim they halted the ministerial in Seattle flatter themselves.7 His Deputy Director, Andrew Stoler, also stated his opinion that the demonstrations were a minor issue in the inability to agree on a ministerial text.8
During the 1998 Geneva Ministerial President Clinton acknowledged the lack of formal communication between the WTO and representatives of civil society. He called for the WTO to "establish a forum where business, labor, environmental and consumer groups can speak out and help guide the further evolution of the WTO" (As stated in Focus; June 1998: 9-10). 9
Clinton's proposal served as the impetus for the 29 November 1999 "NGO Day" held in Seattle which was designed to provide a platform for both trade officials as well as NGO representatives. This forum brought about an astronomical increase in the number of NGO representatives granted official observer status as compared to the 1998 Geneva Ministerial. The 335 participants present in Geneva grew to 1,500 in Seattle. The large number of environment and labor NGOs present at the "NGO Day" differed markedly from the 1996 Singapore Ministerial at which business interests represented 65 percent of accredited groups (Scholte; 1999: 118-119).
Opinions on effectiveness of the Seattle NGO Day differ with some noting that "communication flowed one-way from officials to NGOs rather than two-way" while others thought that the event progressed "fairly well".10 Regardless, this formal NGO session did not prevent tens of thousands from demonstrating.
Recipe for Change
Post-Seattle actions of the WTO
In the time since Seattle, the WTO has quietly addressed the contentious issues which together were the ingredients of the impasse. Notably, unlike the atmosphere which prevailed among GATT ambassadors after the failed 1990 Brussels Ministerial, WTO ambassadors in Seattle have openly searched for solutions to the most problematic issues. Mike Moore has described the post-Seattle actions of the WTO as resembling a swan, "serene on top of the water and paddling furiously under the water"(WTO press release, 26 Jan. 2000).
Immediately following Seattle, Mike Moore held consultations in Brussels on 17-18 January and in Washington on 19-20 January in order to find the elements needed to move the stalled talks forward. He also met with James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, to discuss how international organizations could better incorporate the views of their stakeholders into WTO and World Bank policies (WTO press release, 26 Jan. 2000).
During the following months, the new Chairman of the WTO General Council, Kare Bryn and the four deputy directors continued to hold consultations with the various WTO member governments. These consultations served to pick up the pieces after the impasse in Seattle. The positive atmosphere among the trade ambassadors as well as from member capitals allowed the development of a framework for action.
Framework for action
In the aftermath of the impasse which occurred in Seattle, the members developed a four-point framework for action. The elements involved are:
In its defense, this technique is relatively common to develop negotiating frameworks, particularly when a deadline is looming. It is also critical to understand that the WTO is an intergovernmental institution. All members have the same weight and decision is by consensus in all but a few occasions
Nonetheless, members have acknowledged that increased transparency in decision-making is necessary. They have pledged to minimize the use of Green Room techniques and whenever possible to develop texts and hold discussion in the General Council in the presence of all members.
At their February General Council meeting, WTO members initiated the built-in negotiations in agriculture and services as mandated by the Uruguay Round. While still in the first phase of discussions, these areas will be a critical element of any new comprehensive trade negotiations. There are also plans to implement discussions as called for under the TRIPs agreement.
These post-Seattle activities of the WTO are encouraging as they indicate a sincere attempt by members to address their shortcomings, improve the functioning of the WTO as well as getting the planned Millennium Round back on track. However, their activities need the support and direction that only the effective leadership of the G8 can provide. Otherwise, there is the danger that the swan will again swim into dangerous waters.
The violent scenes of anti-trade and anti-globalization protestors clashing with police in London during the 1999 Cologne Summit, in Seattle during the WTO Ministerial and again in Washington during the April 2000 meeting of the IMF serve as vivid images of the increasingly active role that members of civil society are playing in the shaping of international policies. However, such groups, often misinformed, also present a threat to the global trading system given that their primary objective is to disrupt communication between those chosen to represent citizens.
These radical groups must be compared to the effective and realistic groups wishing to reform rather than destroy current international practice. Unlike the radical segments of civil society, these groups offer constructive proposals for change. It is civil society actors such as these that the G8 and WTO must enter into a dialogue with.
The large increase in civil society groups with various beliefs, objectives and manners of operation necessitate their clear distinction. Such distinction allows politicians, negotiators and officials of international organizations to better understand the likely aims and actions of specific types of civil society groups. Further, it is important that leaders establish the precedent of limiting their interaction with those NGOs and members of civil society who are willing to play by the accepted rules of public discourse rather than acknowledge, or worse, legitimize, those groups who disregard the rules.
This paper develops the categorization of NGOs related to the WTO as developed by Scholte, O'Brien and Williams (1999) to apply to the level of the G8 summit.
These groups generally support the objectives of trade liberalization and the basis behind the activities of the WTO. According to by Scholte, O'Brien and Williams: "Conformers only interrogate the outputs of the existing global trade regime, not its foundations" (1999: 113).
Members of this type of group include: 1) business associations such as the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD), the International Chamber of Commerce and the Commonwealth Business Council; 2) commercial farmers' groups including the US Dairy Foods Association and the EU's Commité des Organisations Professionnelles Agricoles (COPA); 3) research institutes such as the Brookings Institution and the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
While generally agreeing with conformists on the need for a global trade regime, reformists actively work to alter the accepted theoretical approach, transform policies to take into account such aspects as environmental considerations as well as modify WTO operating procedures (Scholte, O'Brien and Williams; 1999: 112).
Members of this group include: 1) trade unions; 2) international trade secretariats; 3) human rights associations; 4) environmental groups, and 5) some development advocates.
Jubilee 2000 is an example of a reformist group that has been active and effective at the level of the G8 summits. Calling for dept-relief of the highly indebted poor countries, Jubilee 2000 is a highly regarded international movement active in more than 40 countries. At the Birmingham and Cologne summits, Jubilee 2000 organized peaceful demonstrations in the form of human chains consisting of 70,000 and 50,000, respectively. While G8 leaders pledged to cancel $100 billion in debt at Cologne, organizers are concerned at the slow process of implementation. According to the head of campaigns, "The G8 leaders have promised a lot but delivered a little. It is clear that if the political will [were] there, debt relief would be carried out". Jubilee 2000 will again form a human chain in Okinawa as well as a virtual chain across the globe.
Members of radical groups aim to limit the rule-making powers of the WTO with some fringe groups demanding that world citizens should "kill the WTO".13 Growing from relatively small groups in the mid-1990s, by 1998 these radical groups had formed a "loose world-wide network called Peoples' Global Action (PGA) against ‘free' Trade and the WTO" (Scholte, O'Brien and Williams; 1999: 115-116).
PGA organizers urge solidarity among its members "in recognition that the capitalist system, based on the exploitation of people, societies and the environment for the profit of a few, is the prime cause of our social and ecological troubles." (http://www.x21.org/s26/calls/s26_en.htm). As PGA documents state, their mode of operation include the "simultaneous occupation and transformation of the capitalist social order around the globe – in the streets, neighborhoods, fields, factories, offices, commercial centers, financial districts, and so on [which will] strengthen mutual bonds at the local, national, and international levels (http://www.x21.org/s26/calls/s26_en.htm).
It is sadly ironic that both the PGA and G8 share the goal of meeting to ‘strengthen the mutual bonds' between their respective members. However, were the G8 to communicate with such radical groups, the danger exists that their destructive mode of operation would be seen as legitimate to the broader spectrum of civil society. Through applying the above categorization, G8 leaders will avoid the "danger that [they] accord legitimacy to ‘civil society' on its own terms and do not differentiate between its component groups" (Bayne, 2000: 215).
Communication with New Actors
At the Cologne Summit, greater participation by civil society in issues concerning the WTO was seen as crucial. The G8 stated given the WTO's vital role, we agree on the importance of improving its transparency to make it more responsive to civil society but added while preserving its government-to-government nature. Indeed, WTO officials support such moves. Earlier this year, Mike Moore stated:
We all need to be more accountable. Parliaments and Congresses sustain governments. Public opinion sustains governments. Elected representatives are the main expression of civil society. Their support is measured, they are accountable, they need to be more involved. This is a real way in which we can counter some of the anxieties about globalization and public alienation (WTO press release, 21 Feb. 2000).
However, to date this involvement by elected officials in order to counter the fears of trade and globalization has been limited. There is no direct contact between the G8 leaders and the representatives of NGOs and civil society. Instead, between 2-9 July, groups of reformist environmental groups from across the world met separately in several locations throughout Japan in a series of forums known as "WTO Debate Week: Citizen's Forum 2001". If the G8 is to show effective leadership in the multilateral trading system, the leaders must take part in direct, and mutually beneficial, communication with their citizens. The concluding section expands on this need for communication as well as offers recommendations on the manner in which the G8 could stimulate trade in the post-Seattle environment.
A possible format for such a dialogue would be one modelled after the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) established in November 1995. TABD is a year-long business-driven dialogue between CEOs of EU and US businesses. Together these business leaders prepare proposals which are personally presented to EU and US senior government officials at an annual conference. In this way, political leaders gain an understanding of business interests and can be more responsive to their trade policy needs. At the same time, business leaders learn the political constraints under which government officials operate. TABD has been recognized as an effective means of increasing communication between European and US business and political leaders.
Structured dialogue on the issues of the multilateral trading system between the leaders of the G8 and representatives of civil society groups including NGOs as well as for profit and non-profit groups would encourage an exchange of views on trade and its impact on globalization. Following an increasing trend of the G8 in which specialist groups meet away from the summit, this new group of civil society representatives could meet throughout the year in order to present the leaders with a set of proposals at the annual summits. Additionally, the Director General of the WTO should be invited to attend both the summits as well as the proposed G8/Civil Society Roundtable.14
In order for the G8 to show effective leadership in the area of trade, they must stand behind what they say and stand up to opponents of further trade liberalization. Without such leadership, they will be compelled to stand on the sidelines of the trade debate.
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