Dec. 21, 2004

A big signal that government leaders around the world have finally "gotten it" was the successful completion of the Uruguay Round of international trade negotiations and subsequent creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995. Located in Geneva, Switzerland, the WTOs guiding principles state that trade should be without discrimination, transparent, and predictable. Each country is expected to treat the 130 other members as "most-favored" trading partners. "Protectionism leads to bloated, inefficient companies and can in the end lead to factory closures and job losses," the WTO literature states. While the process of trade liberalization is ongoing, most firms today understand that the bigger the market, the greater the potential. Those companies that produce the best products and best designs at the best price reap the rewards. For this world of opportunity, where tariffs in industrial countries average less than 4%, you can thank the arduous rounds of negotiations leading up to the WTO. On the subject of new trade opportunities, one less-well-known organization that deserves mention is the World Chambers Network ( Operated by the Consortium for Global Commerce, WCN maintains a database of business opportunities, a forum where companies can initiate international business alliances, and a comprehensive global directory of chambers of commerce. Charts: U.S. Economic Development Agencies Top 100 World-Class Communities International Research Parks & U.S. Research Parks U.S. Science And Research Parks International World Trade Centers U.S. World Trade Centers

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