Gates Addresses WCIT Annual Meeting in Seattle

Redmond, Wash, February 26, 1999 — Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates today outlined his vision for global electronic commerce, noting that several important steps need to be taken to support international trade. Addressing the Washington Council on International Trade’s annual meeting in Seattle, Gates stressed that global electronic commerce requires intellectual property protections, fair taxation systems, strong privacy principles and, most important, “fast track” authority for the President to negotiate trade agreements.

“There is incredible potential for the growth of online commerce worldwide,” said Gates. “But we won’t realize the full potential of that growth unless there are new trade agreements that eliminate the prospect of tariffs on electronic transfers and guarantee free market access for e-commerce providers.”

“The significance of these issues makes it important that the President have Fast Track negotiating authority,” he said. “This authority will enable our government to negotiate strong new trade agreements in these areas.”

In November 1999, the World Trade Organization (WTO) will hold its Ministerial Meeting in Seattle. Trade ministers and delegations from 134 member countries, as well as observer delegations and media from around the world, will meet at the King County Convention Center to discuss important trade issues and launch global negotiations to increase markets for goods, services and agricultural trade. This meeting is expected to be the largest trade event ever held in the United States.

To increase awareness of the importance of world trade to the Washington state economy, Microsoft announced today that it will provide $25,000 in seed money to help create a special trade curriculum for teachers, to be used in the month prior to the WTO meeting. WCIT will encourage other companies to contribute an additional $100,000 to create this curriculum.

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