WTO Transparency Services on Tue, 29 Apr 2003 13:11:24 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Participation_in_your_upcoming_Fifth_Ministerial_in_Cancun_Mexico

[This letter was sent last week by postal mail as well.]

Dear World Trade Organization,

We would very much like to participate in your upcoming Fifth Ministerial
in Cancun, Mexico (10 to 14 September 2003). You have announced that you
are open to the participation of Non-Governmental Organizations "concerned
with matters related to those of the WTO"
(http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/minist_e/min03_e/ngo_acc_e.htm); as
such we are hereby applying to attend, as per the instructions on your

Over the course of the last four years, our organization has consistently 
demonstrated a strong concern with and commitment to matters relating to 
the WTO. In fact, our organization's sole mission has been to bring an 
honest and fair representation of WTO policies to as broad a public as 

We have done this through impersonation and subterfuge. Because our
website, GATT.org, is often mistaken for your website, WTO.org (the GATT
being, of course, the more moderate predecessor of the WTO.), we have on
five separate occasions received invitations to deliver lectures on behalf
of your organization to audiences who were for the most part intimately
involved with WTO policy in their daily professional lives.

These people were, in order of appearance: international trade lawyers;  
business viewers of a satellite television program devoted to global
markets; textile industry figures including business leaders, engineers,
and academics; university students of economics and business; and
accountants with a special interest in international trade.

The content of our first three presentations was as follows. Please note 
that, in these three lectures, none of the audiences seemed to feel there 
was any fundamental clash between what we presented and the spirit and 
aims of the WTO. Each time, we took a number of elaborate steps to 
discover anyone harboring such feelings, but we never succeeded.

I. In 1999, before a meeting of international trade lawyers in Salzburg, 
Austria we gave a lecture promoting, in the WTO's name, (a) the 
elimination of cultural differences in the interest of economic 
efficiency, and (b) the privatization of voting, for the same reasons. One 
lawyer objected to our insults to Italians, but the corporate buying of 
citizen votes encountered no objection at all.

II. On CNBC's July 19, 2001 Marketwatch Europe program, we argued on 
behalf of the WTO that might equaled right and that "justice vouchers" 
might make a nice addition to the panoply of tools at the disposal of 
economic streamliners. The show's producers thanked us and sent us a copy 
of the program for our archives.

III. At the "Textiles of the Future" conference in Tampere, Finland 
(August 14-16, 2001) we explained that the sort of remote-labor 
arrangements the GATS agreement facilitates are merely an "improved" 
version of slavery--and we applauded that improvement. We then unveiled a 
three-foot golden phallus that would enable managers of the future to more 
easily control their distant sweatshop "slaves." (One audience member 
objected to the shape, which she felt implied that women could not be 

It is clear from these audiences' positive or absent reactions that, in 
each of these instances, we represented the WTO faithfully and truthfully 
enough, despite the seeming extremeness and actual inhumanity of our 
material. We obviously had our finger on the pulse of WTO policy, since 
those who live and breathe it every day recognized our versions as normal.

For this reason, we are not only quite "concerned with" WTO policy in the
sense that you meant it--"busy with," "engaged by," etc.--but in the sense
of "disturbed by" as well. The reasons should be quite obvious. (The
additional definition of "concerned with"--"affected by," as in "This
problem concerns all of us"--we assume you did not mean, as that would
encompass everyone on the planet, more and more disastrously every year.)

Fortunately for our sense of optimism, however, our fourth lecture had a 
quite different outcome.

IV. At a university in Plattsburgh, New York, we suggested to a student
audience that a good market solution to starvation and hunger in the Third
World would be to have poor people recycle hamburgers. This lecture, in
great contrast with the previous ones, met with horror and catcalls from
the very first paragraph--giving us hope that perhaps only those who live
WTO policy for years are able to stomach its logical extensions.

V. Finally, at an accounting conference in Sydney, we announced that the
WTO, having seen the failure of its policies, was disbanding entirely, to
be replaced by a new organization, solidly founded on humanitarian
principles. As in the first three lectures, the audience was
delighted--but a great deal more so, and with a deeper elan and

The improvements to the WTO that the Sydney accountants suggested were, in 
fact, so terrific and potentially transformative, that we would very much 
like to share them with you at Cancun in person.

We hope very much to hear from you soon, and to meet you not long after 

With very best wishes,

Andrew Bichlbaum and Michael Bonanno
WTO Transparency Services

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