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Bill Clinton, President of the United States
addresses the World Economic Forum
 real 28k

Saturday, 29 January, 2000, 18:40 GMT
Clinton gives world trade wake-up call

Bill Clinton: "globalisation has made us more free"


President Clinton has delivered a wake-up call on world trade, saying industrialised countries must share the benefits of globalisation with developing nations.


Don't leave the little guys out - we cannot build our own future without helping others to build theirs
President Clinton

Mr Clinton was setting out his ideas on the global economy in a speech to the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland.

It is the first time an American president has attended the annual gathering of international political and business leaders.

He said the world was at a crossroads, with globalisation revolutionising the way economies operated and tearing down barriers between nations.


Clinton: "We will show flexibility"

But he emphasised that individual countries could not build their own futures without also helping others to build theirs.

Open markets and free trade were the best ways to promote global prosperity, he said, and developing countries who had embraced open trade had advanced much faster than those who had closed themselves off.

Turning away from free trade would keep developing states on the bottom rung.

Trade talks

Mr Clinton said he would keep working for consensus on a new round of world trade talks.

A ministerial meeting of the 135-member World Trade Organisation in Seattle collapsed in December.

Its failure was seen as primarily the result of disagreements between the US, EU and developing nations over what should be included in a new round of trade negotiations.

"We will show flexibility and will ask our partners to do the same," the president said.

Protesters

Mr Clinton also sought to counter the perceptions of protesters at Seattle, and others trying to stage a demonstration at Davos, that big business was destroying the environment and exploiting the poor.

A paragliding demonstrator was arrested after swooping into Davos trailing a banner complaining about the effects of globalisation.

The banner read: "WEF Decide with Your Heart."

Another protester said: "Of course I have a message for President Clinton: please take care of the rainforest."

At the same time, hundreds of people trying to get in to Davos to stage a demonstration were held up at security checks.

Anticipating a large gathering, the Swiss army had set up roadblocks about 6 miles from the resort.

Later, about 500 protesters forced their way into the centre of Davos, smashing windows and clashing with police and soldiers.

A Swiss court had earlier told the protesters they would not be allowed to stage a demonstration until Sunday, when key figures would already have left.

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See also:
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Clinton looks to his place in history
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