Some feel that globalization as represented for instance by the world trade organization (WTO) leads to a decline in diversity of human cultures and to a global Mac Donald society with a ''race to the bottom'' in labor standards. Laura D'andrea Tyson does not think that these or similar factors were the reason for the failure of the WTO negotiations in Seattle. Instead she lists three causes for the collapse of the negotiations: the immaturity of the WTO process; the large number of participants, many of whom were new to multilateral trade talks; and the complicated nature of the trade issues under discussion.
She expects that "focused negotiations on trade issues in specific sectors among a smaller group of WTO members are a promising alternative" and mentions progress in negotiations in areas of information technology, telecommunications, and financial services. A problem with that approach might be that these sectors might be treated in isolation and without proper consideration of their interconnectedness with other areas like cultural, labor, and environmental issues.
The WTO's secretive ways of making decisions and general lack of transparency of its operations also are not helpful in dispersing the suspicion of corruption and getting the support especially of third world countries. There are, however, examples of successful global, multilateral treaties in the environmental area including the Montreal Protocol on ozone depletion and the Kyoto agreement on global warming.
In the context of complex adaptive systems it is interesting that the WTO recognizes its power in the form of trade sanctions to modify the fitness landscape for national decisions in global environmental issues: Since the global environment is essential for the survival of the global community it needs to be protected against the interests of individual nations. D'andrea Tyson even suggests the formation of a new Global Environmental Organization to establish the principles, processes, and rules for new multilateral agreements.
Similar agreements in the area of labor standards appear to be more difficult: so far the only WTO labor standard is the prohibition against prison labor.
What Really Sabotaged the Seattle Trade Talks, Laura D'andrea Tyson, Business Week