In the Oct. 12 letter "Workers Deserve Better," Jay Mazur, president of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, suggested that World Bank Group President James Wolfensohn's and Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz's support for "democratic, equitable and sustainable increases in living standards" rejects the notion that trade promotes prosperity. He also suggested that the World Bank is opposed to the United States lowering trade barriers to the Caribbean and Central America.

The World Bank does not take a position on legislation pending in any of its member governments, although it follows issues affecting it and its client countries.

This said, the World Bank supports open regional trade for Latin America and the Caribbean and the establishment of social safety nets to protect the poor from any potential short-term consequences of rapid reform. Our institution encourages labor standards, the elimination of forced labor, the end of discrimination and the avoidance of harmful child labor.

The World Bank supports trade liberalization, but it must be balanced in agenda, process and outcomes. It must take in not only those sectors in which developed countries have a comparative advantage--such as financial services--but also those in which developing countries have a special interest, such as agriculture and construction.


Chief of Media Relations

World Bank Group