28. In June 2001, two members of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development, Ms Stepova and Mr Frey, attended an INTER-parliamentary conference of the Union in Geneva on the role of parliaments in shaping the global trade agenda. The conference brought together about 350 MPs from around the world. 17. The reform of the GATT process, which led to the WTO, was based on the finding (a) that global economic relations were much broader than mere trade in goods and (b) that there were greater implications for society as a whole, as world trade is not only a vehicle for further prosperity, but may also, for some, lead to a potential loss of standard of living. Some might think that Seattle`s message was that the WTO was returning to its core function of simply removing customs barriers, as was actually stated after the ephemeral conference. However, another reading would be that Seattle has shown the need to address trade issues in a broader context – which would also address the potentially less positive consequences of freer trade. Good governance, human rights, social issues and transparency are increasingly important in trade and other aspects of the economy and society. 43. These regional, multi- or bilateral agreements may co-exist with broader GATT/WTO agreements, in accordance with GATT Article XXIV, Article V of the GATS and Article XXV on exemptions, although the Uruguay Round limits the possibility of multi-side agreements.
Some of them sometimes provide for more open trade than the WTO. Some also contain environmental and labour standards that have not yet found their place in WTO agreements. 48. An example of the relationship between trade and the environment is the rapid deforestation currently underway in the tropics. Indonesia, for example, lost about 20 million hectares between 1985 and 1987 and an additional 5 million hectares could be lost by 2001. The World Bank predicts that if current deforestation trends continue, lowland rainforests will stretch on Sumatra by 2005. If the Indonesian rainforest goes away, the orangutan will also be. Fifty years ago, hundreds of thousands of orangutans lived in their primary habitat in this country. Today, the population is estimated at less than 30,000, mainly as a result of logging and forest processing for plantations.